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Jewish Family Services food pantry running ‘really low’ on donations — Here’s how to help

Jewish Family Services food pantry

Officials at one of Johnson County’s largest food pantries are asking residents for help as inflation and other outside factors have severely hampered their food donations. Why it matters: Over

Officials at one of Johnson County’s largest food pantries are asking residents for help as inflation and other outside factors have severely hampered their food donations.

Why it matters: Over the last four months, Jewish Family Services in Overland Park has seen a significant lull in food donations for their pantry, according to JFS pantry partnerships director Jo Hickey.

  • Located at 5801 W. 115th St. in the Jewish Community Center, the pantry serves roughly 800 families, including Johnson County residents and others across the Kansas City metro.

What this means: With a lack of donations, comes a lack of variety and options for families who rely on the pantry, Hickey said.

  • “Instead of having canned chicken, salmon and chili as protein items, we only have tuna, so we have a lot less variety of products to choose from for our guests,” Hickey said.
  • She said the pantry prefers to provide choices to its clients, so they can choose the food that best fits their family’s needs.

The causes: While Hickey said she cannot pinpoint the exact cause behind the dwindling  donations, she expects it’s an effect of ongoing inflation, combined with a seasonal lull typically seen during the summer months and a decrease in donations from the pantry’s larger partners, which include Harvesters.

  • “Places that we used to rely on heavily for a consistent source of product, they aren’t able to be as supportive as they have been in the past,” Hickey said. “The entire U.S. seems to be experiencing supply chain challenges, so I think that is our biggest challenge.”
  • Additionally, she said, donations are traditionally down during the summer months, especially as families prepare financially for kids to return to school.

Key quote: “Even our donors who like to purchase products and donate it themselves, if they used to spend $25 each grocery trip, that $25 isn’t going as far as it used to,” Hickey said.

Canned food, including chicken noodle soup, sits on a shelf at the Jewish Family Services' food pantry.
Jewish Family Services’ food pantry remains stocked with the bare minimum supplies. Photo credit Nikki Lansford.

How you can help Jewish Family Services pantry

To donate, residents can deliver food to one of JFS’s several drop-off locations, including a donation barrel located inside the Jewish Community Campus in Overland Park.

  • JFS is also hosting a food drive on Sunday, Sept. 18, from 10 a.m. to noon for residents to drop off donations curbside at its campus.
  • Hickey said the organization is always looking for volunteer drivers to help deliver food to families in need across the metro, as well.
  • She said they are most in need of fresh produce but will also take non-perishable and canned food items, too.
  • To learn more about how to get involved, residents can call 913-327-8250 or email navigator@jfskc.org.