by Ellie Melero
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — It was a hot Saturday in July, and the parking lot at Harmon High School here offered no shade or relief from the heat. But volunteers with Catholic Charities still worked hard to make sure people had access to food.
Catholic Charities hosted its monthly Mobile Food Distribution July 20, and about 30 volunteers from St. Michael the Archangel in Leawood and Our Lady of Unity in Kansas City, Kansas, came together to help bag and distribute food to some 300 families in the Kansas City area.
“We serve a lot of people in the community,” said James Fuquay, a Catholic Charities employee at the Hope Distribution Center in Kansas City, Kansas. “We see a lot of people who just need some help from month to month. They don’t really have enough to buy groceries and pay the electric bill, so that’s what we’re here for.”
Twenty percent of Kansans are food insecure — which means they lack reliable access to sufficient and affordable, nutritious food. Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas sponsors many efforts to try to battle this food insecurity, one of which is its monthly Mobile Food Distribution.
The distribution takes place the third Saturday of each month at Harmon High School, down the street from the Hope Distribution Center, Catholic Charities’ food warehouse. Harvesters Community Food Network provides the food, and volunteers sort it and load it into the cars of the people who need it.
Angela Markley, who sits on the Companions in Faith Committee for Our Lady of Unity and St. Michael parishes, helped coordinate parishioners from the two parishes to volunteer for the Mobile Food Distribution.
She said members of both parishes were eager to help with the food distribution because they wanted to give back to their community.
“It’s important for us to share with our families the needs in our community,” Markley said. “Some of these families, if they weren’t getting food here today, wouldn’t be able to afford to get food.
“I think there’s a lot of people out there who don’t realize how much need there is in our community, and you can see it here today.”
Cars started lining up in the parking lot about 7 a.m. Saturday, about six hours before the food distribution began. Volunteers arrived about 10:30 a.m. to start setting up, and the Harvesters truck arrived at about 11:20 a.m.
Harvesters provided pallets full of eggs, milk, potatoes, and fresh fruit and vegetables. Each pallet was labeled with what food it had and how much of that item went into each grocery bag.
Volunteers began bagging the food as soon as it was unloaded from the truck. At 1 p.m., volunteers started loading the food into the cars of waiting people. Each car was allowed to take home up to four bags of food, depending on how many people each car was feeding.
The people who came to receive food came from all walks of life, and they came asking for help for many different reasons.
One man came with his daughter because he doesn’t make enough at his job to put fresh food on the table every day. One woman came on behalf of her friend who had a heart attack and can’t afford food and her medical bills. Another woman came because, as a single mother, she struggles to feed her children.
Each person has their own story, but they were all grateful to be given an opportunity to take home some fresh food. “It is a tremendous blessing,” said Marla, one of the food recipients. “It’s helpful to have things like fresh fruit, and they give you so much that it really helps. I just appreciate the blessing.”