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Archive for Friday, December 28, 2012

Local food pantries collaborate to provide healthy food

December 28, 2012

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Ulysses Demby, a Just Food employee who manages food drives for the agency, left, and Just Food volunteer Fairley McCain, put together new shelving for the food bank at the Just Food pantry, 1000 E. 11th Street. The Ballard Center, Just Food, Penn House and Salvation Army are joining forces to create a food bank cooperative.

Ulysses Demby, a Just Food employee who manages food drives for the agency, left, and Just Food volunteer Fairley McCain, put together new shelving for the food bank at the Just Food pantry, 1000 E. 11th Street. The Ballard Center, Just Food, Penn House and Salvation Army are joining forces to create a food bank cooperative.

Choice based food system

Besides providing food to the Penn House, Ballard Center and The Salvation Army, Just Food Pantry will also switch over to a choice-based food distribution system beginning the first of the year. Traditionally food had been distributed in premade packages.

Just Food Pantry executive officer Jeremy Farmer said that the new system gives clients a shopping list, allowing them to pick out their own proteins, grains, vegetables and dairy products from the pantry. This ensures the clients get items that they will use instead of accumulating the same items.

"Clients aren't going to say we have too much of this because it's free food," Farmer said. "We have some clients, they had enough beans for the apocalypse."

Just Food Pantry executive officer Jeremy Farmer hopes to be unemployed in five years.

He would like to see the pantry shrink until it is no longer needed in the community, but recent trends show that’s not an option in the near future.

“We served 10,000 people in a month,” he said. “I don’t see our numbers as a monument to success but a reminder that we have failed.”

That’s why, with the help of the United Way, Just Food is teaming up with the Ballard Center, Penn House and The Salvation Army to try to fight the actual problem of poverty, instead of treating the symptoms.

Under a new program, The United Way Self-Sufficiency Goal, Just Food will now stock the Ballard Center, Penn House and The Salvation Army food pantries as well as provide them with healthier foods, such as fresh bread and produce. This will free up the Ballard Center and Salvation Army to create programs to help their clients focus on their strengths and apply them to build a self-sufficient life.

“It will provide people, who receive stabilization by the food, with an opportunity to pursue what they perceive as a better life so that in the future they aren’t dependent on these resources, which is our ultimate goal,” said Kyle Roggenkamp, director of human services at Ballard Community Services.

The overall purpose of the Self-Sufficiency Goal is to provide low-income residents with affordable housing, job training and emergency services, Erika Dvorske, director of United Way, said.

“The hope is that by working together, we can deliver the best services to the most people,” she said.

Farmer said the cooperation between the organizations began after the realization that they were all competing for funding from the United Way to provide similar services. Farmer said the new arrangement will allow each nonprofit to do what it does best.

"We are seeing how we can be more efficient with people's money,” he said. “It’s unprecedented. You have three agencies that are basically allowing each other to help.”

Comments

Amy Heeter 1 year, 3 months ago

FYI Harvesters has disolved their association with Justfood. Harvesters does not wish to be associated with a corrupt organization such as The Unitedway. justfood association with The United Way is now affecting those who need it most. A sads situation for the poor in Douglas County and Lawrence Kansas.

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justfoodks 1 year, 3 months ago

JSpacy55:

We can do delivery of the regular commodities. Send me an email. jf (at) justfoodks.org.

Sincerely, Jeremy

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JSpacy55 1 year, 3 months ago

I think the untied way is a good thing they have helped me in the past and i am grateful for it. However i wish just food but has a way to deliver the reg not the senior commodies to ppl. me for one whom are actually home bound and its hard to go pick them up

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Catalano 1 year, 3 months ago

I wonder if anyone posting here other than the nursing student has ever been a client of Just Food. I am, and I also volunteer there, so that's my perspective. And I also have a job...I gross around $750/month which is not a whole lot of money, all things considered. Apologies to Can't Have it Both Ways that I'm such a drag on society these days. It wasn't how I planned it to be but $h!t happens, what can I say?

Katara...I appreciate your comments and suggestions (and if that sounds like a Leadership Lawrence phrase, then lord strike me dead right now because I am no fan of Leadership Lawrence). I'm not a fan of United Way, either, and never have been (and when I was able to, I always donated directly). However, I am a fan of Jeremy's and can attest to the fact that he will sit down with anyone anytime and have a conversation about hunger and poverty in Lawrence and Douglas County and explain why he's doing what he's doing to end that cycle. He and I have vehemently disagreed on issues, and will probably continue to do so. But we do talk about issues and he's been there to support me when I've asked, so I'm here to support him now. So please don't write him off because of the way he phrases things...he really does want to think outside the box and it's about time someone in our community did because it's only going to get worse before it gets better. You do realize we live in Brownbackistan?

And to Can't Have It Both Ways: again, how wonderful for you that you haven't been hit by the truck with your name on it yet.

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headdoctor 1 year, 3 months ago

Katara wasn't the only one upset with Jeremy for his communication techniques. It stinks of psychological and motivational jive. I believe he would have been better off reading the comments and using that as potential information to work with than posting the way he did. The biggest problem I have with the article is it makes it sound like UW and Just Food are now the ones supplying places like the Ballard Center. If that is so, what are they planning on doing with food donations supplied by other people? Discarded if it doesn't meet their standards of the UW program?

I guess it doesn't matter because the Ballard Center just lost more than a few donations with this move.

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PoorNursingStudent 1 year, 3 months ago

I never comment on LJ World, but this time I had to. Katara, earlier you seemed upset with Jeremy for his communication techniques. I can see why his words might come across as condescending, but I don't think that is his intention at all. He seems to be genuinely concerned that you’re upset. I’m only defending him on this because last summer I emailed Jeremy when I was struggling and had questions about the food pantry. He was very kind in his reply, which made a humbling situation much easier to deal with. Katara, I also really appreciate you posting about fresh produce. There are terrible & false stereotypes that "poor" people only eat junk food. If I receive fresh produce from Just Food I will think of your kind post encouraging people to donate. Everyone, I am not proud that I need assistance, but sometimes you have to swallow your pride & accept help. I grew up very poor. My mother would not accept assistance. I remember being hungry for much of my childhood. I do not want my daughter to suffer like that. I also want to break the cycle of poverty I was born into. I’ve worked very hard to get accepted into nursing school & I guarantee you, Cant_have_it_both_ways, that receiving groceries does not make me more dependent. It actually does the opposite. Accepting a monthly bag of groceries assures that I can provide for my daughter, so that I don’t have to drop out of school to work a minimum wage job and still need assistance. I don’t want to be a nurse because it’s a secure job or because I want to work 12 hour shifts for a lower middle-class salary or because I enjoy working around vomit, feces, & blood. I chose nursing because I want to be a part of a profession where I can help people and make a difference in their life. I want to work in hospice, mental health, or at a veteran’s hospital or with elderly patients. I feel this way because these people are at a disadvantage and need advocates who will fight for them & work hard to give them the care that they deserve. I want to be a nurse so that I can have a positive impact on society, but some of you just view me as a burden. Here is what I have to say to all of you who feel this way: When I am a nurse and you come to me for care, I will not judge you. Instead I will give you the same high quality of care and attention that I give all my patients because I am filled with love and compassion and forgiveness. I do not believe in judging others and that includes those of you who make uninformed, spiteful remarks about people who are less fortunate. Thank you, Just Food, for all of your assistance. I am truly appreciative of everything you do for my daughter and me. I can’t wait until I can donate food to your organization instead of taking food from it. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to all of you who donate. I can personally assure you that you really are making a difference in someone's life. Now, I have to get back to studying. No winter break for me, nursing school is tough!!

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headdoctor 1 year, 3 months ago

After reading the frame work for the United Way Self-Sufficiency Goal I am still at a loss. It reads more like an extended version of a mission statement and doesn't say anything about how they are going to make this happen. On the surface it would look like those needing help will now have to go through a rectal exam and that information be part of a data base both for help and for turning those away as they see fit. There are some that will comply but others will just try to do without rather than comply with the program.

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Katara 1 year, 3 months ago

Well, in case anyone is interested in directly donating actual food to these organizations instead of writing a check to United Way, Aldi has produce on sale and the prices are very good.

Cauliflower is $.89/ea.
Broccoli is .$89/ea.
Baby carrots are $.59/bag
Avocados are $.25/ea.
Grape tomatoes are $.69/pkg
Celery is $.59/ea.

You can buy 1 of each item and still spend under $5 total. That would help provide healthy fresh food to families who need it and you can have a much more direct impact on eliminating hunger in DG Co. Please call the organizations before you bring items such as these as not all are equipped with refrigerators to keep the food fresh.

People simply don't realize that buying the needed items and donating them to the organization directly actually contributes more to the organization than writing a check to a charity clearinghouse. Yes, it does take a bit more time (maybe 5-10 minutes more) than writing a check but it is time worth spent doing so and it makes more of an impact.

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FlintlockRifle 1 year, 3 months ago

Just how many ""food pantrys"" are there in town??, think it's close to 30, right.

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Kat Christian 1 year, 3 months ago

It isn't the United Way strong arming people to donate it is the Corporation's culture that does. I know because I've worked at the corporate level and have experienced this; though I've never allowed it to control how, when or where I donate. I think for myself, even if it is somewhat contentious, if people don't agree with this too bad. I'm immune to pissing people off. I know there have been rumors that UW has been intimating but I think most of you have it turned around. I think any organization such as UW, etc. tend to find themselves spending too much on Admin overhead, but eventually come around to resolving these issues and get back on track to where the money should really be spent. Not to say they don’t get out of control again. It’s a given with such a large organization. Look at the Federal Government’s spending. I personally prefer to donate locally and directly to an organization because then I know I'm not funding someone's unneeded or luxury item for their own office personal use.

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Cant_have_it_both_ways 1 year, 3 months ago

One of the major problems with the whole entitlement system is there is no reward for getting people out of the program. If this, or any other tax funded group like the SRS enjoyed a 100% success rate, they would lose their jobs. Those in the government don't have jobs if they lose their customers by reducing their dependency. They assure their futures by creating dependency.

Budgeting requires these activities to use it or lose it. A common phrase is"Year end funds". These funds, whether it is the school system or the housing service, are funds that need to be burned up at the end of the fiscal year. Tax supported activities need to justify its expenses so funding and/or additional funding can be secured for the ensuing year. Many, many dollars are squandered on crap that is not needed to keep the current organizational charts in tact and the tax dollars rolling in. We continue to grow the beast under the pretense of helping the needy.

Folks, these non profit organizations...all of them, no matter how good they do and how good their intensions, have to maintain their survival. They do many good things, but until the whole system is replaced with a frugal, performance based system, we will continue down this path that has gotten us to this point of dependency. No matter what model you look at, it does not work.

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Norma Jeane Baker 1 year, 3 months ago

Jeremy, can you address what you (as in Just Food, not you personally) and others are doing to help break the cycle of poverty and dependence upon food pantries in the lives of your clients? Can you cite any success, through stories or stats?

Please understand that I'm not attacking you or the organizations that are helping. I've just finished a book entitled "When Helping Hurts" and am intrigued and motivated to help break the cycle, not just throw money at the problem.

Also, thank you for taking the time to give such thorough answers here!!!

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cdecoito 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm not surprised by the negativity that comes along with articles about social services but I'm still disgusted by it. There are countless community members who appreciate the contributions of Just Food/Ballard Center/Sal Army and even more who respect and admire the hard work that is put in. Unfortunately, those people probably avoid the comments section of LJWorld. (I normally do!)

Thank you to all those involved in this shift, I think it speaks volumes about the quality of community Lawrence has.

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kansasdaughter 1 year, 3 months ago

I am dependent on food. I blame my parents.

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verity 1 year, 3 months ago

Sometimes one doesn't see the forest for the trees and needs an outsider to point out what then seems obvious.

The current economic situation seems to be becoming a way of life and will no doubt get much worse in Kansas before it gets better due to our new tax laws. I am always happy to see organizations which not only help in a crisis, but help people get back on their feet. Keep up the good work.

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motomom 1 year, 3 months ago

Keep up the great work, Jeremy! You are appreciated immensely.

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bubblesinkansas 1 year, 3 months ago

......just one more thought. The use of the language "these people" in the article feels likes fingernails on a chalk board to me. This use of language suggests people seeking services are somehow different and separate from those not seeking services. The truth is any one of us at any time could become - and perhaps have been - a member of the "these people" club in Lawrence. Such language is shaming.

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bubblesinkansas 1 year, 3 months ago

I agree hunger exists in our community. I also agree it is important for agencies to work together. That said, I am wondering about the number stated in the article (10,000 in a month). Are you telling me that daily there were 500 people walking in to receive food? Unduplicated folks? 500?? (calculating 20 days of the agency being open a month)....and , of course, these numbers have been verified by UW officials and the reporter before the article was printed? If so, then I am completely stunned. If not, then Mr. Farmer you have duped many.

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Amy Heeter 1 year, 3 months ago

I hate to be the bearer if revelation for you Jeremy Farmer, but partnering is how the United Way scandal begins. If you think your agency us in s struggle now, just wait until the United Way starts playing number games.

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Charlie Bryan 1 year, 3 months ago

Jeremy, Kyle and Erika: Thanks for striving to create large-scale social change and recognizing that efforts to significantly impact food insecurity require broad cross-sector coordination, not the isolated intervention of individual organizations.

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justfoodks 1 year, 3 months ago

Dear friends:

I must say that I was completely shocked to get on here, read this incredible story (thanks to Rebekka and Adam for telling it!) about how unprecedented these collaborations are, only to have people threaten to not give to community partners anymore because of their affiliation with United Way. I understand the issues that people have with United Way. I used to be someone with a plethora of issues myself. But rather than comment on these forums, do your own research about what United Way in our community is doing.

These changes would not have happened had the UW not encouraged us to look at our collective impact. They don't discourage people from giving directly to their agency of choice. I am appalled at the number of people who give money to agencies and have no idea what it does, only that it goes to do what they're told it does, but the overall problems of poverty, food insecurity, childhood education, etc, only seem to get worse. These partners came together because we want the problem to get better, not worse.

Last, healthy food is VERY necessary for these folks. As a matter of fact, it was identified as a priority with more than 500 Just Food client families surveyed. They can afford to get what they received at every pantry from their local grocery store. They can't afford to buy the fresh, healthy stuff.

I would be happy to sit down and a have a conversation with any of you about any of this. We are making a big impact, and I'm pumped about it.

Sincerely, Jeremy Farmer, Chief Executive Officer, Just Food, jf@justfoodks.org, 785.856.7030

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Laus_Deo 1 year, 3 months ago

I agree with the posts above. Healthy food is not necessary for these people. If they want to eat healthy, let them shop at the Merc!.

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Norma Jeane Baker 1 year, 3 months ago

I agree with the comments about UW. I do not give through the United Way. I give directly to the groups I wish to give to. Too bad the Ballard Center will probably actually lose needed funds.

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Katara 1 year, 3 months ago

While it is a smart idea to cooperate since they all have the same goal - to get people back on their feet, I am disappointed that the United Way is involved. I don't support them and I don't want to have to stop donating to Ballard Center if the United Way is going to be involved in this. The reason I donated to Ballard Center is because it was a more direct way of helping. The United Way sucks too many of the needed resources to pay their overly high operating costs.

I also resent the huge intrusion the United Way has made into various employers - to the point that many employees donate because they fear being ostracized by co-workers and bosses. They take away the choice of people to decide how, when & how much to donate to charity.

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Amy Heeter 1 year, 3 months ago

The united way is corript. They are going to ruin it all.

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