Great Minds Think Alike
Unbeknownst to either of them, one life-long Elsberry, Missouri, resident Kim Jones and one of the newer residents, Tracey Schroeder, had each contacted St. Louis Area Foodbank at practically the same time to find out about bringing food to their community to distribute during the pandemic.
They both knew of another area in Lincoln County working with the Foodbank and they were determined to have the Mobile Market come to Elsberry and have it open to anyone who needed help making ends meet.
“We just wanted to help the community as best we can,” said Tracy, owner of Shooters Saloon. “It’s been a time of struggle and it takes a whole village to help.”
And help they have. The first Mobile Market served 188 families and the second one served 210 families.
Hunger in Elsberry
About an hour’s drive northwest of St. Louis, Elsberry is nearly smack dab between Winfield and Clarksville. Broadway, the main street, is lined with old brick buildings the likes of what you’d see along most any portion of Midwestern rural historic towns. It even boasts a well-maintained yet closed old-timey Conoco gas station at the edge of its 3-block downtown before the speed limit begins to increase on the way toward the Elsberry R2 School District (the largest employer in town) and beyond to the sights of silos, barns, pastures, and crops.
On the day of this Mobile Market, volunteers, who ranged from high school age to mid-70s, arrived early to sort through the pallets of food brought by St. Louis Area Foodbank. Their initial job was made easier as the produce boxes had been previously sorted — which was not the case the first time.
Elsberry Mobile Market
People began lining up in their cars a good hour before the Market was ready to open. To make the line move quicker, the organizers had motorists split into two lines to receive the food — which included potatoes, yogurt, watermelon, mixed seasonal vegetables, and fruit. After the initial line of motorists filtered through, the remainder of the Mobile Market saw people drive through in spurts of three to five vehicles at a time.
Not long after the market opened the threat of severe rain swirled around Elsberry’s town center threatening to blow in quickly. Lightening kept striking closer and closer, the skies darkened and the temperature shifted. With all of the food being out in the open on a side street, one volunteer who had brought his John Deere Skid Steer made easy work of quickly moving several pallets under a nearby park pavilion. Fortunately, the rain held off and everything remained dry and the second Mobile Market in Elsberry was able to continue without a hitch. A few boxes of food items were even delivered by volunteers as many knew of families who were in need but for some reason or another were unable to make it to the Market.
“Everybody has a down time,” said Kim. “Come if you need it.”
Currently, nearly one-quarter of Elsberry residents live at or below the poverty level. And while the coronavirus hasn’t spiked in the community yet, this May 13 Healthline article states, among other ideas, “that rural areas may end up being among the hardest hit regions due to their demographics and lack of resources” regarding COVID-19.
At this time, Kim and Tracy are planning at least two more Mobile Markets in June. The information will be posted on Shooters Saloon’s Facebook page and you can also find it on St. Louis Area Foodbank’s website.
It truly does take a village and heart to help and that was on full display at the Shooters Saloon Mobile Market.