Gordon Day joined Ozarks Food Harvest as its food resource manager May 28, taking on a newly created position to identify new sources of food donations and maximize current donations. Day formerly served as a vice president for Willow Brook Foods, where he was employed nearly 20 years, and he worked most recently at marketing firm Cruise Marketing. In his first two months at Ozarks Food Harvest, Day has secured Cargill as a food donor and received commitments for 10,000 pounds of donations.

New Territory
“An acquaintance of mine – who also was an employee of mine in another life at Willow Brook Foods – forwarded the information to me after being contacted by Denise Gibson, my direct supervisor. He had no interest in (the job), but he thought I might. Once I got online and did a little investigating – I’m embarrassed to say I was really not that aware of the organization – I thought this was a very worthy cause.”

Untapped Resources
“I’m out trying to uncover potential new sources for food donations. That is my main priority, and I’ve been talking to manufacturers in the area. We cover 28 counties in the southwest part of the state. My first stop was at Cargill in the Springfield Underground. It graciously started donating product to us on a weekly basis. I’ve been down to Tyson in Monett, and it has agreed to give us the proceeds from an event in September for the weekend backpack program for elementary schools. I’ve [also] got an appointment at the Tyson plant in Noel, Mo. Tyson is a corporate sponsor anyway for Feeding America, but it has two plants in our backyard that I want to get more involved with. I’m also looking at retailers in the market (such as) Ramey’s/Price Cutter.”

Food Delivery
“We have food pantries that redistribute the food. We have shelters; we have about 250 agencies that we partner with, and several of them are here in Springfield (such as) Crosslines, Salvation Army, The Kitchen, American Red Cross – and these are just pantries. We serve the agencies in southwest Missouri for the aging, many different elementary schools with the backpack program and the summer feeding program that includes the YMCA. It is a wide spectrum of vehicles that are out there to get food to the needy.”

Selling to Service
“[At Willow Brook], I was doing basically the same thing, except I was looking for opportunities to sell product instead of opportunities to find product. I ended up as the vice president of deli sales for that company and in charge of customer service. We had a broker network that went from coast to coast, and I had a sales force that sold to many of the national accounts and most of the regional accounts. The Willow Brook label was in Price Cutters, and in fact, one of those that Cargill took when it purchased Willow Brook – the Lifestyle label – is still in delis at Price Cutters as a leftover from the Willow Brook days. I primarily ran the sales force, but we also had a food service division that I was involved in from time to time. I came to Ozarks Food Harvest from a local food broker, Cruise Marketing. It is a major protein broker for the meat and deli departments in the retail grocery trade.”

Crafting the Narrative
“I am very happy here. We have a wonderful story to tell. At the end of the day, why wouldn’t you [help] if you had the opportunity to? It doesn’t cost anything. The need is greater than ever, and honestly, I don’t think it is going to get any better in the short term. I think it is going to continue to worsen. There was an article (recently) that showed poverty is reaching into a wider variety of demographics. And you put a drought on top of that, and I think it could worsen. So, it is nice to be able to go to people and tell them a story. It’s a story of need, but it’s one where they can make a difference.”