A Johnson County partnership has launched a new program to address the additional food insecurity experienced across the region following COVID-19.
The Johnson County Food Policy Council, Department of Health and Environment and the K-State Research and Extension are partnering for a curbside food drive to benefit local food pantries, which have reported a 30 to 40% increase in need.
JCDHE Public Information Officer Barbara Mitchell said the curbside food drive addresses the misconception that food insecurity isn’t an issue in Johnson County, where nearly 60,000 residents were food insecure prior to the pandemic.
“In addition to feeding our residents, these neighborhood food drives are creating awareness of an issue that will continue to be a challenge in the months ahead,” Mitchell said. “Many families are experiencing loss of income and find themselves in uncharted territory as they try to navigate services.”
The curbside food drive will start with a pilot program in Overland Park neighborhoods, which will run through May, Mitchell said. After the pilot program is completed, the county will assess capacity and may expand the program to other cities, she said. Within days of the program being promoted, more than 75 Overland Park neighborhoods signed up, she said.
How it works
Neighborhood volunteers will coordinate a food drive with their neighbors to collect nonperishable items and hygiene products. A collection spot could be a front doorstep, a driveway or some shared area. The county asks the location be within walking distance to encourage “physical activity, fresh air and neighborhood connectedness” while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
Additionally, the county is asking neighborhood volunteers to collect a minimum of 100 items before arranging a pick-up with their assigned county staff member. Items being requested include nonperishables such as peanut butter and jelly, canned goods and cereal, as well as hygiene products like toothbrushes and toothpaste, deodorant, toilet paper and cleaning supplies.
The donations will benefit Johnson County Human Services’ three food pantry locations: North Central in Lenexa, North East in Mission and South West in Gardner. There is no limit of neighborhood volunteers that can sign up, and county staff will assist areas with multiple volunteers.
To become a neighborhood volunteer, sign up on this list. To connect with one of the three Johnson County Human Services locations — for help with food pantry or utility assistance, call (913) 715-6653. For more information about the curbside food drive see this FAQ sheet, or contact Renee Bryant at firstname.lastname@example.org.