KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Right now, more than 6,200 people in Johnson County alone are at risk of going hungry. Harvesters: The Community Food Network measures food insecurity in the metro. The local food bank can’t keep up with the growing demand because the need is rising faster than donations are rolling in.
“I've seen people who have just lost jobs, who have been out of jobs for a while,” said Cindy Burrichter as she explained the clientele at the Olathe Food Bank.
“They don't walk in looking like they're poor and don't have a lot. Sometimes people even drive up in nice cars,” she added.
Burrichter has seen the image of those who need help change, the evolution has happened right in the heart of Johnson County.
“A lot of them come in apologizing that they have to take food and we try to make them not feel guilty for taking it. That's what we're here for, to share what we have and what others have given,” Burrichter said.
Humbled families are now having to ask for help -- some for the very first time.
On Tuesday, this pantry passed out food to 42 people. Next week, that number could double or be cut in half. One shipment of food from Harvesters only lasts the pantry two weeks, if that.
Recently, Burrichter has had to use extra Olathe Food Pantry money to buy staples like peanut butter and soup because there haven’t been enough donations to Harvesters.
"The donations are not matching the increase in the need," she said.
Grace Episcopal Church in Liberty feeds up to 700 people every month. Joy Brooks, feeding ministry chair, knows it's not easy to receive.
“In a community like this, people may be a little hesitant to express their need that they have a need,” Brooks said.
That growing need is exactly why pantries like Grace have to lean on Harvesters.
“I don't know what we'd do without the food from Harvesters. We are really dependent upon that and the congregation,” she added.
However, the food supply flows both ways thanks to the congregation’s garden.
“The produce from that garden goes back to Harvesters to provide for agencies and individuals who rarely have access to fresh produce," explained Rev. Susan McCann.
The drought has cut the garden’s product in half. Last year Grace was able to donate 2,000 pounds of produce. So far this year, because of the dry summer, they’ve donated just 800 pounds.
The food insecurity rates in Johnson and Clay counties are both 11.7 percent, according to Harvesters.
You can help today by donating to Harvesters’ first every perishable food drive, Fill the Fridge. Click here to learn where KSHB and Harvesters will be tomorrow and how to donate online.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Areas of flurries and light snow will be moving out overnight. There will still be plenty of slick patches on the roads, so use caution. Prepare for a few cold mornings as well.