J500 Media and the Environment


Food Pantry brings hope in a world of problems by bpirotte

Catherine Keeton, coordinator at Just Food Food Bank in Lawrence, Kansas, helps bring "justice for all" to struggling families. Her medium of choice: food. Photo by Ben Pirotte

On a visit around the Lawrence community to try and find those most connected with food and how it is used to solve problems, I came across Just Food Food Bank.

Just Food Food Bank is a food pantry that provides food for those in need from around the Lawrence community. The pantry is open from Monday to Friday from 9 am-12 pm and 1-4 pm. The organization also provides what they call a “mobile food pantry” distribution once a month. This past Monday, the mobile food pantry distribution was able to stock the shelves of 197 households in the Lawrence community, providing sustenance for those going through some difficult times.

Catherine Keeton, the organization’s coordinator, has a lot of faith in her organization. “Food is what we do. We take it very seriously,” she said. “I think [food] is the most direct way you can help somebody.”

The pantry provides for many families throughout the community on a daily basis. But to Keeton, one story seems to illustrate best what the organization is all about.

A single mother of four children was literally on her last $10. With nowhere else to turn to feed her family, she came to Just Food. With the help of the pantry, she was able to feed her family for just the amount of time it took her to get a job. Feeling especially grateful, she now gives an “anonymous” donation to Just Food once a month, sneaking into the warehouse and leaving the bag of groceries. “She really felt like she had been taken care of by her community,” Keeton said.

Keeton believes that providing food is the basis of solving so many problems faced with our community today. “By providing an adequate, nutritious, regular source of food, people can focus on other things,” she said. Sometimes, those other things could be a critical step in security for a family, like the case of the single mother. Without the help of the food pantry, she might never have had the chance to get back on her feet.

Charles, a long-time volunteer at the pantry since 1972, showed me around the warehouse. Photo by Ben Pirotte

Community involvement is something the organization stresses. Without the support of faithful volunteers like Charles, a carpenter by trade and father of 9, the pantry would not survive. Charles has been volunteering since 1972, unloading and reorganizing the many donations that come from generous organizations from around the community.

This tall man guided me through the pantry, pointing to each box and describing its contents, and even took me into the freezer. “You should take an ice cream!” he said, “they really are pretty tasty.” While I decided to pass up the cold treat, I was not able to pass up the warm vibe the generous people at the food pantry were sending my way.

It’s people like this that give me hope in my world.

–Ben P.

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5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Ben,

Great post! I am wondering where this food bank gets its funding. Are they strictly reliant on food donations or do they have funding, too? -Kristina B.

Comment by kristinabev

Kristina, From what I gathered, they had to rely solely on donations. They need all the help they can get!

Comment by bpirotte

Ben-
I really enjoyed reading your post as well. For a previous journalism course, I wrote a similar food bank–ECKAN. They are doing the same thing of providing food to those in need. I too got to go visit their food bank, and it was a very worthwhile experience to say the least.

I was wondering if you ever have, or ever would, consider volunteering at a food bank after this experience? I have volunteered at a food bank like this, back at home, and I think it was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had.
Great post Ben!
-Jackie M.

Comment by jackiemcc

Jackie, I actually have volunteered at a food bank before back home. I think it’s a great way to help out the community. Just Food actually is ECKAN, so you may have spoken with some of the same people I did.

Comment by bpirotte

Ben-
Oh okay. I didn’t realize they were the same place. I probably did talk to the same people.

I’m glad to hear that you have volunteered with a food bank back at home too! I also think it’s a great way to help those in need!
Again, great post!
-Jackie M.

Comment by jackiemcc




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