Harvesters event shows unrelenting need for food assistance in KC

Harvesters Donations
Posted at 3:22 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-11 18:36:33-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The line of vehicles started forming around 10 a.m. on Monday morning, people in need of a helping hand snaking through the Truman Sports Complex parking lot and waiting to receive a package filled with hope.

"It’s a relief to be able to have food and not have to worry about that right now," Theresa Thompson said as her two small children played in the backseat. "I always have faith that I’m going to get through it, but it’s hard."

Harvesters Community Food Network said that in order to feed as many as 3,000 households from across the Kansas City area, the group needed to buy nearly 100,000 pounds of food.

The rest of the nearly $220,000 worth of food distributed Monday was purchased with the help of federal grant money.

"Many of the people coming through today have probably never had to seek food assistance before,” Sarah Biles, director of communications for Harvesters, said.

That's not uncomon amid the COVID-19 pandemi, which has led to a nearly 40% increase in the need for food around Kansas City.

“We expect this high need will continue for months to come," Biles said.

For small business owner Marleka Morris-Hamilton, the virus has hit close to home and Monday's food pickup event helped ease some tension during a stressful time.

“It’s been pretty hard," she said. "I’ve lost two loved ones who passed away ... and it’s just been hard on the family. A lot going on, anything helps. I have money for food, but I also have a business I have to look after, too.”

Harvesters said donations, which can be made online, help keep its shelves stocked during the high-need period with $1 providing roughly three meals.