A Civitan Club program to feed the hungry at CrossRoads Family Church, 8822 Parallel Parkway, is in jeopardy as it has been told it needs to work with the Unified Government to handle the traffic there.
Janice Witt, the Civitan Club president who is working with this mobile food truck program, said her program had done everything that the local government officers had requested of it, including purchasing cones to funnel traffic, but recently, it was told it could not receive more food deliveries. She said the club sponsoring the pantry had worked with authorities and had placed traffic cones where officers told them to place them.
She said she has every intention of holding the mobile food truck distribution this Saturday at the church, and the volunteers will be there, but that the Unified Government has been talking to Harvesters and asking them not to send the food truck there.
Witt said traffic was not very heavy on Saturdays on Parallel Parkway, and that the cones they were directed to place on Parallel did not have that much effect on traffic.
Witt said there has been an officer present and volunteers to direct traffic on a side street located near the church, where cars are parking while they wait for the food distribution. She said there have been no incidents, no tickets and no altercations there. She has previously been working with the sheriff on this project, and there also have been police officers present.
“The problem is we are not the face of hunger in this town, and Wyandotte County wants to keep it that way,” Witt said.
There are some persons who do not want people to think there could be people who are hungry west of I-635, but there are needy people here, she said.
About 20 persons who live close to the church in surrounding neighborhoods are among the people who go to the mobile food pantry to receive food, and of the rest of the people, the majority of them are in the western Kansas City, Kan., or the western Wyandotte County area, she said.
Witt said that the mobile food program at the church has a contract with Harvesters that requires them to bring the mobile food truck there. She said the volunteers will be there Saturday and they expected the food truck to arrive, but they really do not know whether it will be there. They have no way of feeding 1,000 people, though, without the food truck, she said.
She added that since receiving the letter, she had tried to contact the UG about working with them on this, but had not been able to reach anyone.
Witt said about 2,100 people a month are being served by the mobile food pantry at the church site, on the second and third Saturdays, and between 400 to 500 people are served at the food pantry inside the church building, which has scheduled days, Monday and Wednesday, that it is open by appointment. There is also clothing assistance at the church.
The church mobile site now is supplying 20 percent of Harvesters’ food that is designated for Wyandotte County. Three in 10 children in Wyandotte County are considered “food insecure,” meaning they don’t know whether they will have enough to eat today.
Kristen Golden is a resident of the nearby Indian Woods subdivision where the cars are parked along the street. She also is a volunteer with the mobile food pantry at the church.
She said only two or three of the neighbors are against cars parking on the street, while the general feeling in the neighborhood is positive.
She said once the cars are parked on the street, there is no movement, no one getting out of the cars and no loud music. She said it does not block traffic or the intersection. There are volunteer parking attendants.
Golden noted the neighbors who are complaining don’t have any problems with cars coming into the neighborhood and parking on the streets to go to garage sales.
She said that the people coming to receive free food are from that neighborhood as well as from western Kansas City, Kan., Piper, Bonner Springs and Edwardsville. A few neighbors seem to want to kick their neighbors out of the neighborhood, she said.
“The whole thing is just sad,” she said.
Golden said she started attending the CrossRoads church, the former Immanuel Baptist Church, because she saw the signs and cars for this project, and decided she wanted to help volunteer to feed the community. That was the reason she joined the church, she said.
“The church was all about feeding the community, and this was where I want to serve,” she said.
About 90 percent of the congregation is involved in this outreach mobile food pantry project as volunteers, she added.
Witt is asking people to contact the mayor’s office or their commissioner’s office, and Harvesters, to ask that this food distribution be allowed to continue at the church. She has set up a website at this web address.
There has been no response yet to requests made to two persons for a comment.