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Archive for Thursday, May 9, 2013

Just Food agency and letter carriers want your canned and dry foods to ‘Stamp Out’ hunger

May 9, 2013

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Canned and dry foods get stored in cupboards, shelves and drawers. But on Saturday, members of Just Food hope Douglas County residents will put the goods in a less conventional place: the mailbox.

The National Association of Letter Carriers and Just Food have teamed up for the 21st annual Stamp Out Hunger campaign.

“A postal service and a food bank are two very unlikely partners coming together to feed the hungry,” Just Food Pantry director Jeremy Farmer said. “It’s the coolest when something like this comes together.”

Both organizations request that residents put nonperishable items in or near their mailboxes on Saturday. Letter carriers will pick up the items and deliver them to Just Food, 1200 E. 11th St., which will then distribute the food to Douglas County residents in need.

“What we are asking folks for the most is cereal, pasta, pasta sauce, dried beans, brown rice and canned meat,” Farmer said.

Last year the event, which is part of a larger national campaign, generated 21,000 pounds of donations. This year the organizations are shooting for 30,000 pounds. If it reaches its goal, the campaign would provide about 25,800 individual meals that Farmer said would go a long way to feeding hungry Douglas County residents. The pantry receives 8,000 to 10,000 individual visits each month.

Andy Tuttle, president of the local NALC branch that helped organize the drive, said that giving whatever you can is especially important because of growing poverty levels.

“There are 50 million Americans at or below the poverty line,” he said. “There are 17 million children in America who are food insecure and there are 3 million seniors who have to make the choice of whether they will eat or buy their medications. Those numbers go a long way to explaining the need.”

All donated food will stay within Douglas County. Checks can also be made out to Just Food and placed in the mail.

Comments

leftylucky 1 year, 6 months ago

According to this article, just foods provides 8000 - 100000 individuals each month with food. How are the numbers justified? It would average out to 300 individuals per day seven days a week. I drive by just foods often and have not seen the place overflowing with individuals. Can the paper give a breakdown on how just foods counts individual meals, and the distribution breakdown. Where would a person get a irs form 990 for just foods Lawrence ks?

bubblesinkansas 1 year, 6 months ago

I'm waiting for the next article/quote by the current leadership expounding on their greatness. The quote "I put food on those people's table" was and is quite telling. Good point lefylucky.

Jefferson_County 1 year, 6 months ago

That will be the day when there is a critical examination of Just Foods in this newspaper. There are many food pantries in town that never get a mention. And all of them do not have paid staff like Just Foods.

justfoodks 1 year, 6 months ago

Lefty lucky:

We put everything in a database that is currently shared with Ballard Community Services, Salvation Army and Penn House. We track numbers of people who come in for a once a month food pantry, those who come for our daily market (bread and produce), clients who receive the TEFAP program, those that are in cooking classes, and other programs we have. We have it all in a snazzy database that one of our volunteers created for us that I'd be happy to show you. Those numbers are cumulative, not unduplicated. Because we were under ECKAN until last year, our first 990 will be filed this year and be available on our website.

Bubbles: you took that quote way out of context. But, to each their own.

Jefferson: you're right. There are many other pantries in our community that do such a wonderful job at making sure people have food. That's the great part about this food drive. All the donated food goes to these partners. We collect it all for them. They certainly are heroes. Especially the pantry in our county that is nearly wholly funded out of the pocket of the person who runs it. They are a hero.

Sincerely,

Jeremy Farmer

leftylucky 1 year, 6 months ago

If a person comes in for once a month food pantry is that person counted as 30 in the data base or as 1?

justfoodks 1 year, 6 months ago

Let me clarify. If you come in and get food, and there are four people in your family, then we have provided food to four people. If you come in to get bread and produce tomorrow for your family, then we have provided bread and produce to four people. 8-10,000 is units of service and a cumulative number, rather than an unduplicated one.

Hope that helps!

Kent Fisher 1 year, 6 months ago

We are fortunate in this community to have a food pantry with good leadership. Oftentimes, a community food pantry is run by volunteers and lacks oversight. Mr. Farmer and staff do a tremendous job with minimal adminstrative costs. -KF

Jefferson_County 1 year, 6 months ago

What exactly does this alleged lack of oversight by volunteers result in? Giving away food to an individual more than one time a month? Yes, by eliminating the "duplication of services," United Way and Just Food have now combined the client databases at Ballard Center, Penn House, and Salvation Army so that client can now visit these three combined just once a month, whereas they may have been able to visit all three once a month for their <$20 bag of groceries. Actually, I think I have an idea to boost the "individual visits" number even more. Make the clients come in for each commodity individually. It's all in the numbers, and I don't buy it.

justfoodks 1 year, 6 months ago

Jefferson:

I'm sorry you feel like we're trying to boost our numbers. I have said many times publicly and in virtually every staff meeting we have that serving more doesn't equal success in my eyes. As a matter of fact, more people served is a glaring reminder of our failure, NOT our success. I wrote a series of blogs on wellcommons that I would love for you to look at and read.

We are trying to streamline our services to make sure that we get the right food in our clients hands. Many were going to 8-10 different food pantries in a month, not because they needed that much food, but it was to get the food that they could eat (dietary restrictions and preference), that they didn't have too much of (oversupply), or that they didn't have enough of (fresh bread and produce).

As a matter of fact, since this collaboration began, other local food pantries haven't seen an significant uptick in their numbers from month to month. It's been relatively consistent. This tells me that a lot of food was being distributed that clients either didn't need, couldn't eat, or had way too much of. We undertook these changes after polling our clients and finding that the system that we had was perpetuating its own existence. We didn't make these changes arbitrarily, and without significant data which suggested that we not only needed to do better, we had to.

Rather than being completely critical of a system that was formed with our clients in mind (and with their input) and accusing us of "inflating" numbers...why don't you stop by and see for yourself? Talk to some clients. Talk to our volunteers. I'd love to show you around.

Jeremy

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