Guard helps feed Kansans in need
Kansas National Guardsmen and volunteers hand out boxes of fresh produce and dry goods at a food pantry in Effingham, Kansas, June 22, 2020. The food pantry is held once a month with boxes of food that are given to families to meet the growing food demand caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Dakota Helvie) VIEW ORIGINAL

EFFINGHAM, Kan. – The Kansas National Guard and volunteers handed out fresh produce and dry goods in a monthly distribution of food to families in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cars pulled up to the mobile food pantry before 8 a.m., two hours in advance, for boxes of fresh produce, pasta, rice, milk and other dairy products. At 9 a.m., the Second Harvest Community Food Bank truck arrived to drop off the boxes for the mobile site. After each pallet was unloaded, the wrap was taken off and arranged for easy transfer to those in line.

The process is well established by the volunteers in the community. If people are unable to come up to the pantry, members of the community come and get it for them to ensure no one goes without food.

“It’s amazing how many people are here already this morning,” said Spc. Laura Wilbur, a culinary specialist with the 995th Maintenance Company, Kansas Army National Guard. “It’s my first day on this type of mission, and the amount of cars here just shows the direct impact of the mission.”

Distribution sites are determined by need in Second Harvest’s service area. Second Harvest has distributed food in 26 locations each month in Kansas and Missouri.

“We do food distributions here once a month from Second Harvest Community Food Bank out of Saint Joseph and are very fortunate to have the National Guard helping us this morning,” said Harvey Faffe, Effingham city councilman. “This distribution point is the second-highest distribution point in northeast Kansas.”

Helping those in need is something that Faffe is proud to do, talking to passengers in each car, asking them how their day is and how they are doing. The ability to make those connections and provide assistance is something the communities in Kansas rely on in times of need.

“We drove down from Kansas City to assist with passing out food today,” said Tech. Sgt. Douglas Fisher, 127th Weather Flight, Kansas Air National Guard. “The Guard gives you these opportunities like this to go on missions to help others in the communities.”

For more National Guard news

National Guard Facebook

National Guard Twitter

How the National Guard is helping

Photos of the National Guard response

Latest from the CDC

U.S. response

White House-CDC response