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The Community Services League is committed to serving families and children in crisis in eastern Jackson County. Families living in poverty are helped through offices in Blue Springs, Buckner, Grain Valley, Lee’s Summit, Raytown, Oak Grove and four Independence locations. In 2016, Community Services League provided food to families valued at more than one million dollars.
The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception began feeding the hungry more than 35 years ago in an effort to address the issue of hunger many downtown residents were facing. Since that time, much has changed, including expansion of services offered at the Cathedral to include a weekend hot lunch program, a breakfast program and a change in the name of the social services ministry from Cathedral Social Services to Morning Glory Ministries. With the help of its wonderful volunteers, Morning Glory Ministries helps others through its three ministries – Morning Glory Cafe, Hospitality House and Emergency Assistance. This year they expect to serve 90,000 meals, and they say with Harvesters as a partner, they can practice radical hospitality with great love.
New Hope Presbyterian Church has been serving the community since 2011 with both a food pantry and a monthly mobile distribution. They serve more than 750 households each month and have served as a training site for several other mobile distributions in the area. New Hope is a pro-active partner as the need for emergency food assistance continues to grow in Johnson County. They have been able to expand their service and expand their physical pantry to help respond to that need. Since New Hope Presbyterian Church began serving its community through a pantry and mobile distribution, the agency has distributed more than 2.3 million pounds of food.
When district leaders looked at its demographics and saw 75 percent of Topeka public school students were eligible for free or reduced lunch, they knew there was a need for a food pantry to help prevent food insecurity among its students. The district now has two mobile food pantries – one at Jardine Middle School and the other at Capital City High School. Once a month at each school, Harvesters provides food for students and their families. This effort reaches an average of 300 families each month. This year, the district is looking at ways to expand food pantries within its schools, as well as looking for other opportunities to distribute food in the community.
Hillcrest Community Center hosts nutrition education classes and health fairs. In addition, they are a Kids Cafe site for Harvesters offering after school meals. In all, more than 120 kids and adults have attended nutrition classes. Participants have learned life-changing, healthy eating habits during the classes and have shared their knowledge with the community and encouraged others to participate in the program.
Summer hunger is big in the Kansas City metro area, where most children who eat breakfast, lunch, and sometimes suppers at school suddenly find themselves without a nutritious and balanced meal during June, July and August. In 2014, Harvesters made a concerted effort to find the right partners to feed kids at pools and spray parks during the summer months in the metro area. The areas of highest need were in places of higher crime and poverty and where no other summer feeding sites existed. Harvesters sent out a call for strong male role models who had a proven track record of serving kids in their community. The Ivanhoe Masonic Lodge Number 446 of Kansas City answered the call. These Masonic brothers started with two sites, two days of week but have grown the program to four sites, four days a week. Because of their patience and stability, sites which started serving seven or eight kids a day are now averaging a daily attendance of more than 30 children.
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