Thanks to Christ the King Elementary School students for collecting 1,898 pounds of food for Project Topeka. Under the direction of teacher Debbie Beuerlein, the students annually collect food donations as part of Catholic Schools Week.

Project Topeka kicked off its 2017 campaign Jan. 26 with featured speaker Theresa Gartner of Topeka North Outreach. Gartner shared how, when her agency lost a grant that paid for 100 Operation Backpack weekend food sacks for students in north Topeka, Project Topeka stepped in to help with a gift to continue the program. Topeka North Outreach provides 22,500 food sacks each year. Gartner says some students tear into their food sacks before they even get home while one student told of hiding her food sack when she got home. Many students qualify for free school lunches but don't always have food to eat on weekends. 

The Rev. Barry Feaker of Topeka Rescue Mission delivered the invocation. Feaker shared a personal experience with a woman seeking food assistance but who had arrived at the wrong time. Sharing a personal story of helping a woman who had arrived at the wrong time to request food assistance, Feaker told the kick-off attendees that it's important that we let people know that they matter. Helping those in need is a way to show them they do matter.

Read the Topeka Capital-Journal's article for more on the kick-off: http://cjonline.com/news/local/2017-01-26/project-topeka-helps-feed-community-school-children

Amber Stroud of Project Topeka's executive committe announced 2016's top company Project Topeka campaigns:

1. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas
2. BNSF
3. Westar

To get involved in Project Topeka's 2017 Food Drive, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

I-Care: Necessity meets innovation

I-Care’s food pantry may serve those who need food to put on their tables, but it does so with respect to client needs. “Client choice” recognizes that patrons know their own dietary needs and restrictions as well as what foods they may already have at home. So, rather than prepare a standard food box in which everyone gets the same items, client choice allows those who visit the pantry to choose what they need.

The pantry operates out of a cramped room at Highland Park United Methodist Church. Still, Manager Lavine Wall says, foods are stacked in sections to make it easier for clients to choose proteins, vegetables and other foods. There are even gluten free and low sodium sections. In an effort to help people eat healthy, snack foods are positioned toward the back. Wall even fixes sample recipes such as red beans and rice to help clients see what meals they can prepare from items in the food pantry.

I-Care was started in 1972 by a group of pastors in southeast Topeka. With five churches now involved, the pantry serves residents south of 6th Street and East of Kansas. The pantry is open from 8:30-11:30 a.m. and two additional hours on Tuesday evenings.

The number of families served by I-Care has grown from 1,135 inn 2011 to 3,750 in 2016. Project Topeka has supported the program from its beginning.

“Project Topeka is very helpful,” says Wall. “We couldn’t do it without you and support from others.”

In addition to the churches, various community groups do collections to support I-Care.

Shawnee County Parks + Recreation's three golf courses -- Lake Shawnee, Cypress Ridge and Forbes -- combined efforts in November to collect 1,448 pounds of food for Project Topeka. The courses offered golfers a dollar off green fees for each can of food they brought for Project Topeka which serves seven local food banks. Pictured in the photo are volunteers Gary Doyle and Jim Grunewald with Project Topeka President Dan Woodard collecting boxes of food at Cypress Ridge Golf Course.

Linda Kehres, executive director, Let’s Help says the organization couldn’t afford its Food Box program without the support of Project Topeka. The program provides almost 3,600 food boxes a year through Let’s Help’s Emergency Services Department.

The Food Box program is a stop gap for people in crisis. People are only eligible for the service once every 60 days. A Let’s Help emergency services intake specialist works with potential clients to learn how they got into their situation and tries to help them find a way to get back on their own feet.

A Food Box contains such items as two cans of corn, two cans of green beans, tuna, peanut butter and other items. Its size varies up or down by the size of the family needing help.

“The biggest problem we’re seeing is not with the homeless. It’s the working poor. They’re really trying to make it. It’s just hard when you’re making minimum wage,” Kehers says.

Let’s Help got its start in 1969 when its founder served meals from the trunk of her car. Today the organization has a staff of eight helping people with medical emergencies, clothing, food boxes and financial assistance with utilities.

Thanks to TARC for donating 272 pounds of food to Project Topeka. The food was collected during the Winter Wonderland Walk Through that kicks off Winter Wonderland -- TARC's largest annual fundraiser. The food will be distributed among the seven community food banks supported by Project Topeka.

Winter Wonderland runs Nov. 23 through Dec. 31 at the Lake Shawnee Campground. A $10 per car donation is suggested.

 

For the past 11 years, Topeka North Outreach has provided weekend meal sacks to students in Seaman Schools and at Quincy and State Street Elementary Schools from USD 501. In 2016, the organization passed out its 100,000th food sack through Project Backpack which provides weekend nutrition to students who qualify for the free and reduced lunch program.

Topeka North Outreach is one of seven food banks supported by Project Topeka. When it learned that Topeka North Outreach lost an important grant, Project Topeka’s board members voted to provide the organization with a check to cover half the amount of the grant.

Project Backpack volunteers fill 500 weekly backpacks with school supplies, hygiene items and food sacks containing nine to 10 food  items with macaroni and cheese, ramen noodles, microwavable bowl meals, fruit, shelf-stable milk, peanut butter, hot cereal, protein bars, cold cereal, cheese and crackers and other items to tide them over the weekend. It is well-documented that children who go hungry on weekends take days to catch up to their peers during the school week.

Teresa Gartner, vice president of Topeka North Outreach, told Project Topeka board members of children who hide their backpacks when they get home, the food is so precious. At Quincy and State Street Elementary Schools, better than 90 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunches. The overall rate for USD 501 is 76.68 percent. Numbers for other districts are: Shawnee Heights 36.87 percent, Seaman 36.56 percent, Auburn-Washburn 34 percent and Silver Lake 21.29 percent.

North Topeka Outreach provides 500 food sacks per week during the year and 250 during the summer for a total of 22,500 per year. Volunteers meet at 6 p.m. the first Thursday of each month at the Mathes Learning Center at Lyman and Kansas. New volunteers are welcome.

To donate to Project Topeka visit http://www.projecttopeka.org/en/

The community joined together last month to participate in the national Stamp Out Hunger food drive. National Letter Carriers Association Branch #10 announced a record 38,359 pounds of food was donated at local post offices or picked up by letter carriers on their regular routes.

Read more: Read full article on CJonline.com

In this section:

Donate to Project Topeka Now!Help us defeat hunger today—donate to Project Topeka now!

Project Topeka Affiliated Food Banks

Doorstep, Inc.  •  Fellowship & Faith Ministries, Inc.  •  I-Care, Inc.  •  Let's Help
The Salvation Army  •  Topeka North Outreach  •  Topeka Rescue Mission