Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, one in eight Kansas Citians did not know where or when they may have their next meal. The pandemic further exacerbated this issue. When schools closed, more than 16 percent of children who rely on school meal programs were left without a source of regular meals. When businesses closed, those who lost their jobs also faced a heightened risk of experiencing food insecurity. Furthermore, those with limited mobility or limited access to transportation may have a tougher time getting to grocery stores with social distancing orders in place.
Blue KC is passionate about addressing food insecurity in our area, which is why we launched our Well Stocked initiative in 2018. When the pandemic hit, we knew our Well Stocked partners would need our support more than ever to meet the increased demand for their services. Here are some of the ways our Well Stocked partners have gone above and beyond to support the community during these unprecedented times:
- Harvesters – The Community Food Network, the region’s branch of Feeding America, provides food and household products to more than 750 nonprofit agencies. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Harvesters has continued to partner with important groups to extend their reach of its services. Thanks to increased donations from community partners, Harvesters was able to increase its food supply by more than one million pounds from March 2020 to April 2020. Harvesters donates more than six million pounds of food on average per month, up from four million pounds per month in 2019.
- Cultivate KC connects the most vulnerable parts of our community to local farms and food. The organization has helped supply up to 90,000 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables to hundreds of low-income households, and continues to support local farmers by encouraging our community to purchase produce from them through its challenge, Eat Local. Participants are challenged to eat as many meals using local ingredients as possible – even meals from restaurants that source locally count. Cultivate KC has also provided training to its Roots for Refugees farmers in how to safely handle and package food according to the USDA guidelines.
- Kanbe’s Market, Well Stocked’s newest partner,leads a Healthier Store Program, which delivers fresh and affordable fruits and vegetables to neighborhood convenience stores and gas stations located in food deserts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kanbe’s has become a hub for a variety of local groups working to get food to the people who need it most. Two new partnerships, including the partnership with Blue KC, combined with increased demand because of the pandemic, have accelerated the non-profit’s growth from providing 8,000 pounds of food a week to 100,000 pounds a week in just two months.
It’s amazing to me how our community has responded and stepped up to help those in need. These organizations are just a few who have done so much to lessen the inequities our community is experiencing because of this pandemic. We’re proud to partner with these organizations through our Well Stocked initiative and will continue to do what we can to address food insecurity in our community. To learn more about Blue KC’s Well Stocked program, visit the Well Stocked webpage and follow Blue KC’s Facebook and Twitter for information about future events and opportunities to join the Well Stocked initiative.