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RSVP Column
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The Community Food Bank of Barton County located in Great Bend is one of RSVP’s 65 partners in Barton County. While the Community Food Bank of Barton County operates as a ministry of the Barton County Association of Churches, it was organized as a separate entity in 1984 with its own board of directors and tax-exempt status from the IRS; it is designed to distribute food in a temporary emergency or crisis situation to persons in need. Currently, there are 14 members on the board of directors with Evelyn and Bob Essmiller as Co-Presidents.
The Community Food Bank assists an amazing number of people each month. From April, 2011 through July, 2011, 2,790 individuals received assistance in the form of food. These people ranged from a young family whose sole provider was laid off to an 85 year old on a fixed income with no family to help to a family of grandparents raising their grandchildren and many more.
Recent research found at shows that 13.4% of Barton County’s population lives in “food insecurity” which is defined as not knowing when or where you will find your next meal. Of that group, almost half are living below 130% of the federal poverty level. What this means in real life is less than $14,079 for one person and $28,665 for a family of four. When you have a limited or fixed income, unexpected events or expenditures can blow up even the most careful budget. This is where the Community Food Bank of Barton County can be a lifesaver.
Volunteers are the backbone of the Community Food Bank with only one paid employee to handle all record-keeping for the agency. Evelyn Essmiller estimates there are 30-50 individuals that currently volunteer monthly. Some only work for a few hours each month while others work three days a week, every week. In April, 2011 alone, the agency tracked 489 volunteer hours and this number probably didn’t capture everyone’s hours, according to Evelyn. This number may vary a little from month to month but not by much. These volunteers are truly dedicated.
The Community Food Bank is funded with donations from the churches of Barton County, grants, and private donations. FEMA has been one of those funders until this year. FEMA’s support depends on county unemployment rates and Barton County unemployment rates have dropped below that limit.
The Community Food Bank needs our support to replace the FEMA dollars that helped to support the agency. RSVP is currently sponsoring a drive to help the Community Food Bank. Donations of non-perishable food items and/or money are welcome and will be accepted at the food bank or at the RSVP office at 1025 Main, Room D114, Great Bend. There will also be a donation table at the POW/MIA recognition event hosted by the American Legion on 9/17/11; watch for more information on this important event in the Tribune. Donations are tax deductible.
The Community Food Bank is located at 3007 10th St in Great Bend and is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 1–3 p.m. Any Barton County resident or transient moving through the community is eligible to apply for assistance, but can only qualify for this service 3 times within a 12 month period.
RSVP volunteers joined by other community volunteers are making an important difference in the lives of Barton County residents in need by working at the Community Food Bank. Help us to support this valuable agency in Barton County with your donations.
Donna Baugh can be reached at 620-792-1614 or RSVP is sponsored by Barton Community College.