Food bank responds to controversy over donation from drag show benefit

SEMO Food Bank controversy
Updated: Nov. 10, 2017 at 4:58 PM CST
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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A gay bar in Cape Girardeau, Missouri says the area food bank turned down its donation.

Independence Place has been putting on benefit drag shows for 30 years. Each year, a different organization is chosen by the winner and this year, Danny Vaughn chose SEMO Food Bank as his charity, only to be turned away.

"It's just so astounding that these people who say they are on a mission to help people won't accept our help," Vaughn said.

He won the Miss Independence Place Pageant this year and as Miss Independence, he's in charge of putting on a benefit drag show.

"I was one of the children affected by childhood hunger," he said. "I know what it's like to rely on the generosity of others for your next meal, for the lights to stay on, for your parents to be able to afford shoes for you."

When he contacted the SEMO Food Bank about where to take the donation, he was surprised by the response he got.

"They said, 'thank you for choosing our charity, here's our address, we're right off 55. You can call us for more information.' and I said, 'Fantastic, feel free to share the information. I'll send the flier for the show,' which I did, which is here."

"They then said...'I apologize, I did not read the information more carefully. I cannot post this information and I would ask that you not mention our organization as a beneficiary. As you know, this event may be offensive to some of our supporters, please accept our apologies,'" Vaughn continued.

"My response to that was, 'I don't care about people being offended. I care about people being fed,'" he said.

We reached out to SEMO Food Bank and they sent the statement below, apologizing for that initial response. You can also click here to read it.

Vaughn said this is the first time in 31 years they've had an issue with an organization.

"It's heartbreaking and I know that somewhere, someone is going without because they don't want our money because of who we choose to love," he said.

Vaughn said he appreciates the apology, but still plans to donate the proceeds from his benefit show to "Care to Learn" of Cape Girardeau, an organization that sends backpacks of supplies home with children who need them.

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