Author: Mary Beth Chambers Published:
While many people take for granted where their next meal is coming from, others are not as fortunate. It is estimated that one in seven Kansans needs assistance with food, including one in five children.
Matthew Tannehill, program director for Catholic Charities’ Our Daily Bread Food Pantry, meets as many as 300 families a week who live with food insecurity.
“For many of our clients, they are faced with making decisions like ‘should I pay the utility bill or buy food’ or “should I buy medication or food,” Tannehill said. “Those are the choices that many families in our community are having to make every month.”
Our Daily Bread, located next to the Lord’s Diner at 2825 S. Hillside, is an “immediate need” pantry, providing enough food to help clients manage for two to three days. Individuals are able to visit Our Daily Bread once a month to shop for themselves or their household. The pantry uses a “client-choice” model, meaning clients “shop” the pantry instead of receiving a pre-packed box. A volunteer guides each client through the pantry, helping them choose a specific number of items from categories such as fruits, vegetables, soups, rice/pasta, proteins, breakfast items and bread.
While Our Daily Bread partners with Kansas Food Bank and local retailers to stock its shelves, Tannehill said the pantry also relies heavily on the generosity of donors and local organizations. This generosity comes in the form of cash donations which help him make bulk food purchases and as non-perishable food items collected during drives at churches, schools and businesses.
September and October are traditionally months when donations to food pantries slow down, Tannehill said, but the need always remains. Our Daily Bread currently needs soup, canned fruit and breakfast items.
“Most people donate to food pantries during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, and again during Lent, which is tremendous and greatly appreciated,” he said. “The need in our community is year round. September’s Hunger Action Month is a great way to remind people of that. We hope that people respond by helping us keep our shelves stocked for the fall.”
Tannehill said that clients are truly appreciative of the helping hand that they receive. One note of gratitude, written by Michael, hangs in the pantry to remind volunteers why they are there. It reads: “Last week I visited your food ministry. All three people I spoke to were so very nice. No judgement when I feel so inadequate and down. Thank you for your kindness and blessing my youngest daughter and me during a very difficult and challenging time.”
Call to Action
You can support Our Daily Bread Food Pantry by making a cash donation or organizing a collection drive. To learn more, click HERE.