Volunteers handed out hundreds of boxes of food, including fresh produce and dairy products, Friday morning at Junction City High School.

Volunteer Rina Neal came out to help as a member of the board of the Geary County Food Pantry and as a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority.

Neal said people began lining up for the food at 7 a.m., though the distribution didn’t officially begin until later that morning.

The JCHS football team helped to unload a semi truck loaded with almost 1,000 boxes of food, she said before they began distributing around 9 a.m.

Neal was uncertain how many families benefited from the distribution, but the line had flowed steadily through the JCHS parking lot all morning. She estimated between 500 and 700 families had been served.

“It is a hard time for everyone, due to the pandemic,” she said. “Junction City/Geary County is a food insecure community. And so this is the second time that we have been able to offer this fresh food giveaway.”

There was a similar distribution earlier this year.

Volunteer Margaret Kilpatrick, who was the point person for the distribution Friday, said the food came from USDA program Farmers to Families, a program started in the wake of problems caused by COVID-19.

This year, because of the pandemic, some ag producers have struggled to get their crops to market and, in many places, families have struggled with grocery shortages and rising food prices in stores.

Anyone, regardless of social or financial status, was permitted to have the boxes of food.

“It’s fresh fruit and vegetables and I think that’s something every family can use,” Kilpatrick said. “We have a lot of families that can use this."

Kilpatrick said there would be more distributions, to be announced at a later date.

“I love to see the families come and get it,” she said.

Geary County Food Pantry Manager Debbie Johns assisted in handing out the boxes.

She said all of the large produce boxes were gone by the end of the day.

“It seemed like there were cars coming for days,” Johns said.

For her, the distribution was an opportunity to help people she doesn’t usually reach.

“I think we’re reaching so many more people in the community that maybe wouldn't come to the food pantry,” Johns said. “I sometimes feel like you don’t even hardly see the same people that you see at the food pantry. I don’t know if it’s because some people are working — I don’t know. But it just seems different. It seems like different people.”

Because anyone in the community was welcome to take part, more people were able to take advantage of the opportunity.

“They don’t have to worry about any income guidelines,” Johns said. “Maybe it’s somebody that doesn’t struggle all the time, but just happens to be having (trouble) — their dollar’s just not stretching as far. And so it’s something that’s available to them as well."

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