A line of cars stretched from the middle of City Park, where volunteers were loading boxes of produce and dairy products into car trunks, out to 14th St. and around to Poyntz Ave. from about 9 a.m. til just passed noon as local residents waited their turn.
The event was part of the Farms to Families program, which is a multibillion-dollar effort announced by the the United States Department of Agriculture in April.
“The Farms to Families program provides grants through the USDA to keep the supply chain open during these crazy times,” Megan Maciel, communications director for KVC Kansas, said. “We’re making sure that farmers are still working, that wholesalers are still working. And it benefits the community because we’re able to put fresh fruit and vegetables and dairy in the hands of needy people.”
Driving to City Park was not the only way to access the distribution, as volunteers and even those who were picking up food from the park were able to deliver food to those in need.
“We do know that sometimes, especially if people are elderly, they may not be able to come out and pick up their own food,” Maciel said. “So we definitely encourage neighbors to help neighbors and to take that food to people that they know of as well.”
One KVC Kansas official estimates that they distribute $22,000-$30,000, or 18-23 pallets, worth of groceries at each food distribution of theirs in Manhattan. According to the same official, that comes out to about $50 of groceries per car.
Those who did make the drive to City Park for the distribution, though, were not required to present personal identification or proof of income.
One of the more visible aspects of the distribution was likely the line of cars stretching out into the street.
According to Maciel, KVC Kansas is able to learn overtime what the best traffic pattern is for each distribution location and, since they have only hosted a few in Manhattan, are still figuring out the best set up in conjunction with the city.
“We’ve run into this in Wichita (and) here in Olathe,” Maciel said. “There’s kind of been all sorts of things that have happened as we’ve navigated this, but we definitely want to make sure that we are doing our best for the city as well.”
Although their most recent distribution in Manhattan, which wasn’t their first and will not be their last, just happened, KVC Kansas and Remnant Church are already looking for volunteers for future events.
According to a KVC Kansas official, there will be plenty of jobs to go around.
“Sometimes that’s loading vehicles with produce boxes, sometimes that’s handing out information about community partners or sometimes it’s just helping direct traffic a little bit,” Lance Wilson, community resource specialist at KVC Kansas, said.
Wilson says they are also looking for drivers who can deliver produce to those who may not be able to make it to the distribution during the scheduled time.
KVC Kansas and Remnant Church are scheduled to put on another food distribution on Aug. 28 at 9 a.m. in City Park.
To find out more about volunteering for future distributions, contact Lance Wilson at 785-207-3403.
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