To the editor:
I would like to add to Tressa Hall's letter "Hungry Children" ("Public Forum" 9/5/99). Recent news items suggest an increase in people accessing food pantries and food kitchens. At LINK (Lawrence Interdenominational Nutrition Kitchen), Jean Ann Pike, LINK coordinator, has reported an increase in the number of families with young children and in elderly guests. LINK only serves four days a week so there are probably people going hungry in Lawrence. In July and August, 1999, LINK served over 400 more guests than it did in the same months in 1998. If this trend continues, LINK will serve over 3,000 more people in the next fiscal year. LINK, a non-profit, community based organization, relies on the generosity of people in our community who care about those who need to be fed. Space and utilities for the kitchen are provided by First Christian Church; food is donated and served by local religious and service organizations and Dillons; and donations from local churches, individuals and a FEMA grant help with consumable supplies.
Tressa's letter suggested using food that is thrown out each day by "institutions." Several years ago the Good Samaritan Act enabled restaurants and grocery stores to donate prepared food to food pantries, food kitchens and non-profit organizations. A small Lawrence group investigated the possibility of gleaning this food and distributing it in Lawrence. Of the 14 inquiries I sent out to non-profit organizations that feed, 11 came back asking how to access the food. However, the committee bogged down after talking to the health department because of necessary regulations regarding the safe handling of the food. To glean the food would require a truck with refrigeration and a storage facility with freezers.
Lawrence has a variety of food programs available (e.g. the schools, the Senior Center, the Salvation Army, LINK, the Jubilee Cafe, the Emergency Services Council sites and EKA). However, the community has to provide support for them by volunteering their money, their time and their expertise. No one should go hungry in a community as rich as ours.
Pam Casagrande, LINK Board