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Ozarks Food Harvest receives $100K Walmart grant

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Ozarks Food Harvest and Walmart employees were on hand Sept. 10 at the Ozarks Food Harvest O'Reilly Center for Hunger Relief for the presentation of a $100,000 grant to the food bank.

OFH won the grant after receiving the most online votes from Walmart and Sam's Club associates across the state. The Walmart Foundation Associate Choice Program, implemented in all 50 states, had the company's employees choose organizations they thought were most deserving of the grants, said Toby Youngblood, Walmart Foundation project manager for state giving.

The program spanned six weeks and has awarded $5 million in grants to organizations nationwide, according to a Walmart news release.

"I'd like to reach out to (OFH) and thank them for caring about the needs that we as Americans and humans have for others and their need for food," Youngblood said. "Walmart Foundation is extremely excited to be granting $100,000 to Ozarks Food Harvest."

Youngblood, along with Walmart Market Manager Skip Tinney, presented the grant check to Bart Brown, OFH president and CEO.

"This partnership with Walmart has meant a great deal of difference to the food bank and to our ability to meet the rights and needs for hunger assistance," Brown said, noting that for every dollar donated to OFH, $10 of food can be given to the needy, meaning the $100,000 grant equates to $1 million worth of food.

Youngblood said it was a tight race among Missouri organizations competing for the grant.

"This was the closest race in any of the 50 states," he said. "Ozarks Food Harvest pulled it out actually on the very last night."

St. Louis-based Every Child's Hope came in second, said Becky Wood, Walmart Foundation local giving program manager.

Following the presentation of the grant check, Brown led a tour of the OFH O'Reilly Center, which had its ribbon-cutting ceremony in September 2009.

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