Archive for Friday, December 28, 2012

Local food pantries collaborate to provide healthy food

December 28, 2012


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.”


Amy Heeter 5 years, 3 months ago

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

Katara 5 years, 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.

Matthew Herbert 5 years, 3 months ago

Exactly on point regarding employee ostracizing. We held a staff meeting to make us feel bad because donations were down.

justfoodks 5 years, 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,, 785.856.7030

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

I decide who, how, when and how much I donate to charity. I will not be strong-armed by some charity clearinghouse just because employers want good deed credits to their corporate names. I will not support any charity that encourages this as well.

Many people on this forum who have commented have done the research about United Way and found that organization to be lacking. And because we have done the research on the United Way, we do comment on these forums. You may want to stifle those comments for your organization's benefit but that is your problem and not any of ours.

And frankly, the idea of cooperating to better assist people in Douglas County should have been something that you all should have come up with on your own. The fact that you didn't tells me that these charities are being run by folks who can't see outside their own box. That's a shame because people who can think creatively and cooperatively are the ones the charities need the most.

justfoodks 5 years, 3 months ago


I can sense that you're angry, and I can understand that. I don't think anyone should donate to any charity clearinghouse just because their employes want good deed credits. I apologize if I was misunderstood. Each United Way agency is asked to go out and speak at employee campaigns on behalf of United Way, and each agency does it proudly. When I go and speak places, I don't talk about needing to give, I just tell the stories of what is happening with our organization.

I will say that United Way doesn't force people to give (that I've seen), and they even have encouraged folks to give directly to the charity of their choice if they would like to.

I am flabbergasted that people have done research, and sat down with the United Way staff in our community and found them to be deficient. And if you're implying that people won't give Just Food money because of my words...for those that make its opinion of an organizations leadership higher than what the organization does, I think that's extremely sad. As a matter of fact, that is precisely the reason why the United Way is short of their goal -- people are punishing the United Way for opinions people have about them, and the people that are suffering are those clients that all the United Way agencies serve, including Just Food & many others. United Way is working hard to raise money to give it to its agencies. Even the ones you speak of in your comments.

And I agree with you 100%. We should have come up with this on our own. We should have been innovative enough to do that. And with the help of a community kitchen table called the United Way we were. I would encourage you to come and see Just Food. I think we're doing a lot of things that are very much outside of the box. I'd love to show you around sometime...

Sincerely, Jeremy

shadowlady 5 years, 3 months ago

Way to go Jeremy, I think you and just foods are doing an awesome job. Keep up the good work, no matter what they say that is derogatory. Again your doing a good job, and the people that have to get food appreciates it very much.

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

You continue to further my point. You don't make a case for working with you when you approach the matter in such a patronizing tone.

And it is obvious that you haven't a clue. The United Way created their own problem and they did so with their approach with employers. I've been on many United Way talks and frankly, they make the Mafia looks like wimps when it comes to strong arming employees into donating. You also provide an example of tactics that are used in your 3rd paragraph. Please stop portraying the United Way and Just Food as victims. Neither of you are. United Way and JustFood are simply vehicles of delivery for donations and nothing more.

And if you think that people refuse to donate to anyone because of the United Way, no wonder you are flabbergasted. You are a perfect example on not being able to think outside of your own box. People chose to take their donations to the organizations directly. There is more direct impact than having your money or your time when doing so and you avoid the cut that United Way takes out of the donation. Simply put, your money and time goes farther when directly donating to your charity of choice. And that is exactly what the comments on here are encouraging - more direct donations to charities.

I'm sorry but I have no interest in speaking to you or visiting you at JustFood. You will simply just repeat the key phrases taught to you at Leadership Lawrence (I sense/or hear [fill in the blank] and I understand/or acknowledge [fill in the blank] ) and I have better things to do than to listen to what basically amounts to a sales pitch.

justfoodks 5 years, 3 months ago

I am sincerely sorry that you have misunderstood my comments the way that you have. The door is always open if you change your mind.

Sincerely, Jeremy

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

And again, the Leadership Lawrence training comes out. It is a pity. The Lawrence Chamber of Commerce still hasn't figured out how much one alienates others with these canned responses.

justfoodks 5 years, 3 months ago

I sincerely wish that you wouldn't throw me into a category and write me off. These aren't canned leadership Lawrence responses. I loved the people that I was in that program with, but I deeply struggled with the curriculum. I want to have a conversation with you to work through some of these issues and understand where you're coming from. I'm 29 years old, and I have not figured everything out. I have a lot to learn. If I can glean some wisdom and a different perspective from you, please sit down with me and have a conversation.

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

Those are canned responses and they are taught in every motivational course. If you choose to use those types of responses, you will be thrown into a category and written off. It also includes such phrases as "I want to have a conversation with you". They are phony and fake sounding phrases. Stick with talk that sounds sincere and you will find that people are much more willing to listen to you.

Courses such as Leadership Lawrence bring death to actual communication between people. They just teach you pretty phrases that are intended to placate rather than communicate.

+1 points for appealing to ego of the person "I'm just [fill in the blank] and am inexperienced/or very young. Be gentle with me as I am still learning the ways of the world"

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

That's sweet that you are defending someone you like. You don't seem to provide that reason for President Obama who is also someone that people see as a big guy with a big heart trying to do the right thing. Given your defense of Mr. Farmer for those character traits, I am certain you will no longer offer criticism of President Obama's plans as many believe he shares those same character traits with Mr. Farmer.

So, where are your proactive suggestions as how to assist people without means eat healthily and without breaking what little they have? I've offered some below. Perhaps you can share some of yours so that others may also contribute.

Glenn Reed 5 years, 3 months ago

I wouldn't take it too personally or harshly. The internet (even a local-level site like this one) tends to make some (most?) folks to misplace their sense of reason, critical thought, decency, reading comprehension, and/or other allegedly valuable personality traits.

Personally, I think this could be a great thing for the community.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 3 months ago

Giving them food does nothing but make them dependent. When you talk about survival, the only part of this program that survives is the Just Food. You know the story about teaching a man to fish. I too, have been strong armed by a couple of employers into giving to the UW. I give to a lot of things around here, none of them that cater to able bodied adults.

tomatogrower 5 years, 3 months ago

Considering your past posts, do you really expect us to believe you would give to charity? How is your waitress or retail clerk suppose to stay able bodied? You don't want to pay the prices that will give these people living wages, so they have to eat somehow, so they can continue to serve you. Or is that your answer to unemployment? Starve out the working poor, there's plenty of out of work poor ready to take their place? Such high morals. (sarcasm intended)

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 3 months ago

You know nothing about me, as I know nothing about you. I see from your posts that you are more of a taker than a maker. I am on the other side of the fence. I have not chased a life of substance abuse, had more children than I can afford, and I do not look over my shoulder as someone that is successful and blame them for what I don't have. I get out of bed and work every day, invest for the future and do my best to anger people like you with the full intent of shaming you into at least considering becoming self reliant.

I am working with my accountant now ramping up to write my checks to the tax man and get this pain in my stomach when I see our elected and appointed leaders doing everything they can to squander what I have earned and figuring out ways to give it to non producers for their personal benefit.

I tip very well, usually at least the amount of an additional meal, but that is only if the service is good. If the service is marginal, then they get the standard mark up. I ask you... living wage... why is it that you are not busting on the food places for paying 2 something an hour and demanding their help is compensated by their patrons? Is this not something that needs to be fixed?

You talk about living wages. In the real world basically what happens is, for example, McDonalds will take the responsibilities of 3 workers, cross-level those into the responsiblities of 2 employees that will actually work, fire the guy they have been carrying and that loser will go onto the government teat. They have taken the entry level jobs that teach our youth how to become responsible and massaged them into a pure mess by those who want to complain about not having anything, but in a lot of instances, only are interested in having children they cant afford or seek a life of substance abuse. We wonder why there is no money.

Tomatogrower, continue to bust on me just like you do the Koch brothers. Those that are not successful will always envy those who are, and demand they pay their way. I choose not to. I support those who can not support themselves, do the best I can to do good business, and align myself with those who are successful as I too, try to make it through this life. I suggest you do the same.

justfoodks 5 years, 3 months ago


Giving folks food actually does not make them dependent. We have actual statistics to back this up. Contact me, and we can sit down. I'd love to show you. It's actually alarming, and busts up perceptions that many folks have regarding those who receive social services. We want to teach people how to fish....that is why we're doing this!

Sincerely, Jeremy

verity 5 years, 3 months ago

Can't, you might try reading the article before you comment.

shadowlady 5 years, 3 months ago

Can't Have It both Ways-----, there are people out there struggling to make ends meet. Some are without work and yes they are looking for work, then there are those, the money just doesn't stretch far enough after paying "high" rent, and utilities. Then there are those that are on S.S., some do not make much, therefore, the same applies to them, the money does not stretch far enough. There are some that only get $16.00 a month on their vision card. What can that buy, a gallon of milk, a loaf of bread, maybe some lunch meat. Therefore they go to just foods for help. And until you are in these peoples position, then you shouldn't be making comments that you really know nothing about.

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 3 months ago

Then there are those that are on S.S., some do not make much, +++++++++++++++++++

This is the very reason we should defund the empT...rescend the new 18 million library project and many of the other feels good things this town demands, but has little way to pay for. We should instead, move to a position where we play from in front, only funding or building thing we actually have the cash for.

Yes I do know about these things. Until they get to a point that assistance is only provided to those who actually need it and rid themselves of those who a milking the system, nothing will get better, scarce assets will not find the right place and there will not be anyting for anyone. Many of those you suggest are struggling to make ends meet seem to have enough money to have cars, tvs, cell phones, internet, computers booze etc, but dont have enough to pay their primary bills. I take exception to this.

Rae Hudspeth 5 years, 3 months ago

You bring up, as do many others without defending their position, an animosity toward public transportation. For the working poor who cannot afford the initial expense, upkeep and maintenance on a personal vehicle to get to and from a low-wage position, what would you have them do? It is possible to have a television without paying an exorbitant amount to the cable or satellite company, in fact a cheap TV and a cheap DVD player can provide hours of free entertainment, provided there is still access to many movies and programs available for free from the local library.
I do not mean to sound antagonistic, but would like to know if you consider those social services unnecessary when they accomplish quite a bit for those of little means, including many senior citizens who have already paid their way into these "entitlements"?

I'd just like to see less of an all or nothing brush stroke of those who are of limited means in our society.

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

What an ignorant statement! No one who dislikes the tactics of the United Way has even remotely come close to suggesting such twaddle as you have, Can't-have-it-both-ways. Giving people food does not make anyone dependent. It just makes them less hungry. And when one is not hungry (or does not have hungry children) it is much much easier to focus on things such as getting back on one's feet.

Kent Fisher 5 years, 3 months ago

Amen, Jeremy. Don't allow the uninformed, knee-jerk posters bother you. Keep up the good work! Kent and Stephanie Fisher, Stonecreek Drive Christmas

Sue Grosdidier 5 years, 3 months ago

Well said Jeremy! I changed my eating habits 3 years ago for health reasons and it is very expensive. Those that are on fixed incomes cannot afford all of the fresh veggies and fruit. If we do not find ways to provide healthy food it causes all sorts of health issues that we pay for later. I find it very sad that many of you lack compassion for mankind. I have had the privilege of volunteering for many years in various homeless shelters and have found people end up in bad situations for many reasons. I have also learned not to judge because I could fall off of my pedestal just like anyone else.

Charlie Bryan 5 years, 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.

Amy Heeter 5 years, 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.

justfoodks 5 years, 3 months ago


I can appreciate your concern. As I said, in the past, I have been very skeptical about United Way. Before Just Food became a United Way agency, we sat down with the United Way of Douglas County and had a conversation. I have been involved in this process, and I believe I am seeing it for what it is, and I believe the leadership is reflecting the true mission of many folks in our community who want to see impact, rather than just the problem getting worse by throwing millions of dollars at it.

I will make this promise to you. So long as I am the director of Just Food, if anyone starts playing games that inhibits the services that we deliver to our clients, I will have no problem cutting ties immediately. Our clients are our first priority.

Sincerely, Jeremy

Michelle Fales 5 years, 3 months ago

And if there is anyone who doesn't play the games, it's Jeremy Farmer . Never have I seen a man so driven to his cause and his community. Thanks for all you and Just Food do. I was down there a week or two ago and their organization is so well organized and the relationship they have with the individuals who came in was incredible. Everyone should be grateful that Jeremy moved back to Lawrence and for how he has turned JustFood around. He's the man!!!

Krag 5 years, 3 months ago

Wow! Artie, if you could actually quit throwing side-eye at the United Way and clean up your own back yard, you'd be a much happier woman.

bubblesinkansas 5 years, 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.

justfoodks 5 years, 3 months ago


Those number are astounding, and legitimate. Nowhere in the article did it say those numbers were unduplicated. But those were the total units of services delivered by Just Food in November. The breakdown is as follows:

Food pantry: (clients coming in to receive the once-a-month food bag/box) 3,197 Daily market: (clients coming in to get fresh bread and produce) 4,761 Federal Commodity Distribution: 820 Mobile Food Pantry: 475 Thanksgiving Boxes: 2,290 Total: 11,543

That is ONLY food distributed by Just Food DIRECTLY to clients. This doesn't take into consideration what Just Food's 43 partners in Douglas County served, which is another 2,800 people. I'd love to sit down with you and show you this huge packet of statistics and have you come by for a tour just to see how busy it is. It's fascinating, and incredible.

I will say that a huge reason why we are moving towards these community impact goals is that there is a lot of duplication. Both in our numbers, and in the numbers of those of our partners, and those we're going to be working with: Ballard, Salvation Army & Penn House. This collaboration is to help us get a great picture of what the needs are, rather than just throwing food at the issue and hoping that it gets better.

bubblesinkansas 5 years, 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.

justfoodks 5 years, 3 months ago


Meant to address this in my comment above. I grew up in Lawrence. My family was dirt poor. I tell people that when I was growing up here, the poor people shopped at K-Mart, the middle class at Walmart, and the wealthy downtown. My family shopped at K-Mart, and maybe twice a year went to Walmart. I am sorry you felt like the article was written with "these people" in mind. We call all those that utilize our services "clients" and make it our utmost priority for people to feel respected and we treat each with dignity. That is the entire reason we're moving to the choice system. We asked our clients what they wanted, and they didn't want to be given a box of food. They wanted a choice. So, we're giving it to them.

If you've ever heard me talk, I frequently say that we are an illness, pink slip or accident away from needing the services we provide. I don't know anyone in the article, or the organization that they represent that would feel like people are put in another category. As a matter of fact, come to a volunteer orientation at Just Food, and you'll hear me talk about how important respecting our clients is, and what I do with people who don't.

Sincerely, Jeremy

motomom 5 years, 3 months ago

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

justfoodks 5 years, 3 months ago

I'm certainly not the hero, motomom. We have a huge army of volunteers and so many great people that help us do what we do. I get far too much credit. I tell folks all the time I'm a storyteller and a cheerleader. The real heroes are the ones distributing the food so I can do those two things!


verity 5 years, 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.

Cara Banglesnatch 5 years, 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.

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

And there are countless community members who prefer to donate directly to JustFood/BallardCenter/SAl Army and respect and admire the hard work that is put in by those groups and simply wish to avoid dealing with the United Way.

justfoodks 5 years, 3 months ago


Thanks for taking time to ask the questions!

I have read the book you speak of, as well as a book entitled Toxic Charity, and those have really made an indelible impact on me in wanting to attack the cause, and not just the symptoms. We are trying to put a small bandaid on a very large problem, and then we sit and wonder why things aren't better.

Part of our strategic plan for 2013 is to provide more food that people need. The same food we are currently providing is the same food our clients can get at the grocery store relatively inexpensively. Green beans, canned corn, etc. What clients don't have the resources to get are eggs, milk, butter, meat, etc. So, we're stepping up access to those types of things. Implmenting our choice system will empower clients to take only what they need, which will eliminate waste, as well as the enormous cost of us supplying food that may or may not be needed.

Astonishingly, of all of the clients Just Food sees, 89% of them come less than 6 times throughout a rolling 12 month period. We call clients with that need an acute need. It's a short term need. It's not regular, and won't be permament. We can connect those clients with other resources in the community, but they just need a little help to get by for a short time. The clients we are focusing on are those with chronic or long-term (7 times or more utilization of the food pantry in a 12 month period) need.

To fight that we are: -doing cooking classes. We have seen a HUGE reduction in the amount of fast food people are eating (a 50% reduction). Clients are learning that eating healthily and well is easy and cheap. These classes are being taught by world-class chef, Rick Martin. 25% of those who have been through the class have saved enough resources that they won't have to come to Just Food anymore. That is HUGE.

-strengths based case management. I can't tell you how excited I am that as Just Food focused on stocking its satellite pantries at our wonderful partner locations, it will free our partners up to have case managers on site at those locations five days per week. These strengths coaches will sit down with folks, help them navigate through the system (for instance, 75% of Just Food's clients are NOT on food stamps), and connect them with existing resources in our community to give them a better chance at being more self-sufficient.

-choice system. As previously stated, this will reduce food waste, and increase clients choosing what they actually need.

I am hopeful that the number we can focus on next year at this time is not the number of clients served, but the number of clients we've helped get on their feet. That is how we'll measure success!

Sorry for rambling. I am so passionate about this stuff, because I believe it will work.

Sincerely, Jeremy

Cant_have_it_both_ways 5 years, 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.

justfoodks 5 years, 3 months ago

You and I think very similar. It doesn't make sense that we throw so much money at problems, and as far as food banking goes, more trucks, additional staff, bigger warehouses, and year after year, the problems get worse. That is precisely the reason why we're changing things. If you read my quote in the article, bigger numbers aren't a monument of our success, but a reminder that we have failed. We want to involve people in that solution, and if you are as like minded with me as you sound, let's chat. I think we can glean some good ideas from each other. I don't want to survive for the sake of surviving. I want this problem to get better...that is why we're blowing things up and starting over as of January 1 with a ton of new changes. Because I want things to get better, and not perpetually worse.

Sincerely, Jeremy

Kat Christian 5 years, 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.

headdoctor 5 years, 3 months ago

I guess they are just slow to learn since they have had problems with scandals for the last 40 plus years and yes administration chews up a lot of their cash flow.

It is always better to donate items or services to any organization. It isn't impossible that way for scandals but makes it a bit harder for the group to abuse the system. Once you hand them money you have given them a get off free card.

FlintlockRifle 5 years, 3 months ago

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

justfoodks 5 years, 3 months ago

Just Food has 43 partners in Douglas County. Those are food pantries, feeding programs, and residential houses.

Katara 5 years, 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.

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

Or a group of people could pool together money & purchase beef or pork in bulk from a local farmer. I go to Smitty's in Easton to purchase mine and not only is the price reasonable (and much cheaper than buying individual cuts from the grocery stores) but you are putting money back into the local economy which is a win-win for everyone.

I would suggest that JustFood look into that option as well. It brings more bang for your buck and you get to feed a lot more people with leaner and healthier cuts of meat. Add that in with the cooking classes on how to cook the variety of cuts you receive and you assist others better.

JustFood and the other organizations can also look into inexpensive crockpots for clients (you might write to some of the manufacturers, such as Rival, for donations of those handy cooking tools). What is the worst they can say? No? You aren't any worse off. It never hurts to ask and the PR the corporations get makes them more willing. All these things can be channeled without strongarming employees into payroll donations.

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

It is too bad that these groups can't get with Jenn Hethcoat or one of the other couponers who teach classes on how to reduce the amount spent on food. I know many people believe in the myth that coupons are just for processed foods but that simply isn't true. There are many resources out there that have coupons for fresh produce. For example, I am going to use coupons from the newspaper to buy some pomegranates (excellent source of antioxidants & is considered one of the superfoods plus they are very yummy!). I've also purchased clementines, salad mix, fresh spinach, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, baby carrots using coupons from the grocery stores, the newspaper inserts & printables from coupon & manufacturer websites.

There are also plenty of coupons for frozen produce, which keeps longer. There are coupons for chicken and turkey (I get Gold N' Plump brand at Target very cheap by signing up on their website so they email me coupons about once a month and check to see when the chicken is marked down. You toss it in the freezer and can use it whenever).

People can also save on their household stuff (toilet paper, toothpaste, deodorant, etc.) and that helps one put more money toward healthy food and bill payments.

I don't know if Jenn (she used to do a coupon blog on LJW) still does coupon classes (she should really call them grocery/household item budget classes) but if she doesn't, I bet she knows who does.

Heck, if these organizations can get a couple of people to do shopping who are knowledgeable about sales & how to combine them with coupons, they can extend further the cash that they do have from donor contributions.

headdoctor 5 years, 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.

PoorNursingStudent 5 years, 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!!

Katara 5 years, 3 months ago

I don't think you understand the impact of his word choices. The phrases he uses are carefully planned phrases and are ones encouraged by many "leadership" groups. Those words are designed to stroke corporate CEO egos so that they will be more inclined to assist.

As someone who has done fundraising, I am very familiar with all the coaching tools used to encourage donations from larger clients. Those phrases may work on the corporate CEO level but on an individual donor level, they are simply pretty words to placate and cajole. If you read the United Way self-sufficiency info, you'll see what I mean. They aren't words that actually accomplish anything. They are merely dressing to pretty up the fact that there is little action really being done.

And whether these organizations like it or not, it is the individual donors that make the biggest impact. They are the ones who donate because they fell it is the right thing to do rather than for the publicity it brings. They are the ones who donate throughout the year rather than a large donation once a year that is eaten up by overhead.

Thank for your sincere words. You understand how to communicate and that will serve you very well and your patients will appreciate it greatly. I wish you luck in your studies :)

Leslie Swearingen 5 years, 3 months ago

As an elderly person who needs a lot of medical care, I thank God there are nurses like you. You will make a huge difference in someone's life. Oops, yes I do know you are not a nurse yet, just looking forward.

Your daughter is very lucky to have a mom like you. By teaching her by example you will make a huge difference in her life.

headdoctor 5 years, 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.

Catalano 5 years, 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.

JSpacy55 5 years, 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

justfoodks 5 years, 3 months ago


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

Sincerely, Jeremy

Amy Heeter 5 years, 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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