Ken Fowler of Manhattan, Kansas, knows firsthand how beneficial the Flint Hills Breadbasket is to Riley County residents. He first sought out the Breadbasket as a guest needing food assistance, then decided to stay as a volunteer. From offering him support to allowing him a chance to spread compassion and kindness to others, the Breadbasket has a special place in Ken’s heart.
Today marks one year since I joined the Flint Hills Breadbasket as the Executive Director. To say that it has been a full and rewarding year would be a huge understatement. In that time, I have been continuously touched by our community's generous spirit. It's hard to encompass a full year in one post, but I will give it a shot.
The Breadbasket is rooted in the principle of reducing food waste by matching surplus food with people who need that support. One way to accomplish this is through a practice called “gleaning.” Gleaning refers to gathering things that have been left behind and is a natural fit in Kansas with our agricultural foundations. In the traditional sense, we think of leftover grain or other produce being gleaned from the fields after a harvest. This concept translates easily to fresh and shelf-stable foods being gathered from local grocers, then evaluated and sorted, and ultimately being offered to people who could use those resources.
On February 12, 2023, the Super Bowl will be held in Glendale, AZ. Many people around our community will gather with family to enjoy the game. Many will celebrate with food and drink, yet in our own community, need will remain.
People struggle to meet their basic needs in many communities and as you well know, Manhattan is not exempt. In December 2022, the Flint Hills Breadbasket served 596 unduplicated households, with 158 families visiting for the first time. More than 25% of our community lives at, or below, the poverty level. The frequency and intensity of need have increased as the price of food and other essential items have risen.
Recognizing that donations to the Flint Hills Breadbasket tend to decline after the holiday season and need remains in our own community, Souper Bowl Weekend was created to help raise awareness of those who are experiencing food insecurity and to raise food and funds for the Breadbasket. In 2022, we raised over 13,240 lbs of food, and in 2023 we are hoping to collect 15,000 pounds- the amount we collected in 2020 before the pandemic shut down much of the country.
This year, we would again like to invite all local churches and faith communities in the Manhattan area to raise food and funds in their own church over the weekend of the Super Bowl. No matter the size of your church, all are welcome to participate – every little bit helps to reach the goal! Participation of our churches is critical to the success of this effort. If you are interested in including your church in the collection, please let us know (SouperBowlMHK@gmail.com). Upon request, we will also work with the Breadbasket staff to deliver boxes to collect your donations and can schedule a pick-up during the week following the collection to make it easy to handle for you and your staff.
Kevin R. Roberts William Kennedy III
St. Thomas More Knights of Columbus St. Thomas More Knights of Columbus
Dave Ekart Karla Hagemeister
St. Thomas More Knights of Columbus Executive Director
Co-Chair Flint Hills Breadbasket
Manhattan is a special community. We are a population that is always changing, but also with deep roots. The Breadbasket has the honor of being rooted in our community for the past 40 years, being founded in 1982 as a means to reduce food waste and address hunger.
This has been a busy year, with a change in directors and staff. Our continued success is a testament to the deep commitment of our volunteers and supporters. They have allowed space and support for new services and policies that we know are allowing us to have a wider reach.
Friday, December 2nd at 5:30
Join Manhattan and the surrounding communities as we welcome the holiday season at the Spirit of the Holidays Lighted Parade. The parade will travel down Poyntz in Downtown Manhattan to Aggieville. Cash awards will be given for Best Youth Entry, Best Use of Lights, Best Bicycle Entry, and the Mayor’s Trophy!
Returning to Manhattan in 2023...discussions are underway to revive the Manhattan Community Thanksgiving Dinner. With changes in several of the key organizations, it will take a little more time to regroup and plan this community event.