KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Exactly one year ago, on April 30, 2020, Harvesters Community Food Network held its first drive-thru food pantry.
As news helicopters hovered overhead, the Kansas City area was introduced to a scene no one expected or ever wanted to have to see: a line of cars nearly a mile long wrapped around the parking lot which had once been the Indian Springs Shopping Mall.
"There was every kind of car. There was every kind of family," said Harvesters' Director of Communications, Sarah Biles. "That shows that hunger has no boundaries, it's an every county in the United States."
Harvesters served nearly 1,500 households that day, roughly a month into the pandemic.
"Every time I looked up there were just more cars and more cars and there was a little bit of panic amongst our staff that — would we have enough food to meet the need that day?" Biles recalled.
Thanks to donations and volunteers they did.
In the year that brought COVID-19, Harvesters brought 60 million meals to the community. That's 15 million more than they'd ever distributed before.
"It was very emotional that day to see the numbers of people that we've never seen in one place before. It still gets me emotional today, a year later," Biles said. "Part of that is because of the need that was there ... then but also the realization that the need is still there, a year later."
Just this past March, Harvesters distributed the most food it ever has for a single month.
"That wasn't last year, that was last month," Biles said.
What keeps the well-oiled machine that is the Harvesters Community Food Network going are the community volunteers who continue putting aside their own hardships to collectively fight hunger.
"They stepped up with food donations, they stepped up with financial donations, volunteers came in when we were able to have volunteers, they all came forward and helped us," Biles said. "When we come together as a community, we can make a difference and ease other people's burdens, help them and give them a little bit of hope."
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