The Flint Hills Breadbasket is overflowing with food.
Executive Director Maribeth Keiffer said right after the holidays, the Manhattan-based food pantry always has an abundance of food, but it doesn’t take long for it to go.
“It’s needed every day of the year,” she said. “We have people coming in every day picking up or applying for food assistance.”
Keiffer said the mayor’s food drive is the last major food drive until May. So, from now until May, food donations slow down.
She said as of Dec. 23, the mayor’s food drive generated about 118,000 pounds of food. She said the organization would not take a total count until Jan. 15 because several donors wait until after the new year to donate.
So far this year, the Breadbasket has received 645,000 pounds and has given out 628,000 pounds of food.
Keiffer said the warehouse has about 110,000 pounds of food on its shelves on any given day.
She said even though the Breadbasket, a 501c(3) nonprofit, has been “blessed by the generosity of Manhattan’s citizens,” the need has increased over the last two years.
Keiffer said in many cases, members of the recipient families have jobs, but their income is not enough to meet their needs, especially when they have kids.
She said some are unemployed, but those who are not working must prove they are actively seeking a job to receive benefits. Also, she said that only people who live in Manhattan can receive food from the pantry.
Keiffer said some people get upset when they have to go back home and get a piece of mail to prove they have a Manhattan address, but it is a requirement because Manhattan is a transient community.
In addition to people coming into the pantry, Keiffer said the organization also delivers food to buildings where 20 or more people receive assistance. She said workers usually take food to buildings where low-income seniors and low-income families live.
Keiffer said they have seen an increase in seniors applying for food benefits. She said the Breadbasket also participates in a federal program for seniors that delivers food to those who qualify once a month.
She said the downside to the federal program is that the Breadbasket is limited to about 60 participants, and it has a waiting list.
The upside is that those on the waiting list can come to the Breadbasket and get food.