In the last year, we have worked hard to increase access to our support. We expanded our service area to include all of Riley County and Fort Riley, added an evening market opportunity, removed means testing, embraced guests from all backgrounds, and have created a community within our walls. Concurrent with our outreach efforts is an increased frequency and severity of need for support. We all have seen food and other essential prices increase in the last year, just as many of the additional support programs offered during Covid have been winding down. A few facts for you…in August 2022, the Breadbasket supported 467 unique households. Fast forward to April 2023- we served 712 unique households, an increase of 66%. In the month of April, the Breadbasket welcomed 133 new households, and a normal Market hosts over 60 families.
How are we doing this day after day without running out of food? Friends, it takes a lot of work! We have two crews of volunteers that pick-up food donations from local grocery stores, Monday-Friday mornings. People bring in donations from their businesses, churches, clubs, and families all throughout the week. Special events like Souper Bowl, Stamp Out Hunger, and Cats for Cans help fill our shelves and the warehouse. The vendors at the Downtown Farmers Market have become a treasured source of donated produce. Your financial support allows us to purchase milk, butter, eggs, and other staple foods that are in high demand.
But honestly, all your generous donations cannot stretch to meet the level of need in our community. So how do we do it? I’d like to introduce you to our friend and partner, Harvesters. Some of you are familiar with the Harvesters trucks from the mobile distributions at Manhattan Town Center or Bill Snyder Family Stadium or CICO Park. You have seen the long lines of cars and boxes of food being distributed. This is only one component of the services offered by our friends at Harvesters.
Flint Hills Breadbasket has had a long-time relationship with Harvesters, who many of you might know by their original name of Second Harvest. In the big picture, The Breadbasket falls under the regional support of Harvesters, who themselves are under the umbrella of Feeding America on the national level. The Breadbasket is situated in the middle of the equation with our local pantry partners coming under our care. We are all parts of the bigger picture.
But what does our relationship do for us? Let me tell you- it does a lot! As our regional support, Harvesters manages the high-level relationships with grocery stores, food manufacturers, and other avenues of food procurement. They then pass along their resources to programs in the 26 counties in Eastern Kansas and Western Missouri that they serve. In practical terms, they make food available to the Breadbasket at greatly reduced or no cost at all. It takes patience and practice, but careful monitoring of their menu has brought almost 200,000 pounds of food to Riley County in the past 6 months at no cost to us. As we all watched egg prices skyrocket, I was incredibly thankful for the occasional ability to order eggs from Harvesters for the low, low price of $7.76 for 15 dozen eggs. Yes- you read that right! Harvesters provides opportunities for us to make savvy purchases with your financial support.
Our relationship with Harvesters is truly a partnership and I’ve just shared the high points of how we work together. As we work on our common goals, you will be seeing their name more often. We want our community to know that the work of Harvesters compliments and supports our local efforts at the Flint Hills Breadbasket. The food that is donated locally under a Harvesters’ branded activity stays right here! We’ll be sharing more information about a new activity supported by Flint Hills Breadbasket and Harvesters later this week. It is a common refrain here that we all need help- a community. Harvesters is a valued friend and support, and we are happy to be on the same team.