Knowing that the Flint Hills Breadbasket is a safe space for members of the LGBTQ+ community makes it easier for Bree Gerth to walk through the door and ask for the help she needs. 

“Every time I come here, they greet me, and (they) are wonderful and happy to see all people. It means I’m welcome here and it’s not something I have to worry about. It just takes away one level of stress in this situation,” Bree says of the rainbow welcome sign posted at the pantry serving Riley County, including Manhattan, Kan., and Fort Riley, since 1982.  

Friendly faces and the ability to shop for her own groceries makes a difficult situation a bit easier. Bree relies on the Flint Hills Breadbasket, a Harvesters partner agency, for detergent, toilet paper, shelf-stable foods, and frozen meats. 

“I’m not used to asking for help, but my financial situation has become such that I need a little assistance, and they just make it clear that they are here to help everyone,” Bree says. 

At times she visits weekly, other times she only needs monthly assistance. Although stigma keeps many people from seeking help, Bree encourages others to access the resources they need rather than go without. 

“If they’re in that situation, they’re not alone. I’m working two jobs right now,” she says, including a full-time position as a paraprofessional at high school. “You can be working hard and still be struggling, and that’s life, unfortunately, but Flint Hills Breadbasket is a place you can go, and they’ll help you out when you need that help.” 

Bree is thankful for the food and household items she receives from Harvesters. 

“Thank you for what you do, it means so much. Seeing all the people that are served here, you’re making a difference to a lot of lives,” she says.