Debbie Johns and Margaret Kilpatrick were guest speakers at the March 31 JC Breakfast Optimist Club meeting at the Hampton Inn. Debbie shared she became a volunteer six years ago and was later hired to direct the work of the Food Pantry. “Geary County has the highest rate of food insecurity in the state of Kansas. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in the number of new people needing assistance. Fifteen thousand pounds of food is distributed each month.” Don Manley, JC Breakfast Optimist Club President, who also volunteers at the Food Pantry stated that “If there were a cost of $1.00 per pound for the food, that would equal $15,000 distributed each month.” Individuals or families are given items which may include meat and staples that would normally fit in a box about the size of a banana box.
Sources for donations for the food comes from Dillon’s, Wal-Mart, Smithfield Packaged Meats, Aldi’s, food drives, individual and organizational donations, military units and the Commissary at Fort Riley, Starbucks and Pandera Bread in Manhattan.
To be eligible to receive food from the Food Pantry, those in need must provide a picture ID, proof of address in Geary County and monthly income. The Food Pantry is open on Mondays and Thursdays from 9-11:30 AM and Tuesdays from 5:30 until 7:00 PM or by appointment. Margaret Kilpatrick stated that “in the past we were open more hours and days, however, with budget restraints it was necessary to cut back on staff and in other ways.”
There are currently two employees and twenty-five volunteers. For more information or to volunteer, contact Debbie Johns at 762-8830 or e-mail at email@example.com.
Another guest was Don Haffner. Don has served as the President of the JC Breakfast Optimist Club and been a state Lt. Governor for Kansas.