County employees start Feed-the-Need drive
OLATHE - Johnson County Government is again preparing to feed a growing need in the Johnson County community.
The county government's 2008 Feed the Need Campaign will officially began with a kickoff celebration Friday,, on the square between the Johnson County Courthouse and Administration Building in downtown Olathe.
The public fundraising, food-collecting program has a Summer Olympics theme with a goal set at 135 tons of food in either cash or food donations. Each donated dollar is roughly equivalent to four pounds of food.
The celebration will feature fun and food for all ages, including games such as Wii Olympics, Olympic Ring Toss, Sand Trap, Motorcycle Showcase, drawings and Bean Bag Toss.
Maury Thompson, 2008 campaign chairman and director of Developmental Supports, will be first up in the Olympic dive tank, followed by several other Olympic hopefuls (county officials) in the water sport of "dunking."
"Johnson County continues to see growing rates of poverty. Our Olympians (our employees), for over 20 years, have participated in a tradition that demonstrates caring and support for their neighbors in need," Thompson said. "I am pleased to see this tradition continue."
Other Feed the Need events include drawings for prizes, donation opportunities and other attractions. Lunchtime food offerings also will feature the Olympic theme, such as Torched Right Brisket, Gold Medal Spuds, First Place Floats, Torch Run Taquitos, and many others.
The food and cash donations in the 2008 campaign will be used to replenish the supplies available to households in need of assistance from 10 Johnson County food pantries, including five operated by county government.
According to Kim Mayer, public information officer for the Department of Human Services and Aging, there has been a 31 percent increase in requests for assistance and more households are asking for assistance. From January 1 to June 17, 2007, the pantries assisted 848 households with food. For the same period this year, 997 households have been assisted.
The increased demand is being driven up by rising costs of food, housing, utilities, health care, and gasoline.
"Our food pantries can always use food; the shelves are especially bare over the summer," Mayer said. "Summer is the most difficult time for our food pantries. We experience a decline in food donations because school food drives are not being held. Also, children are home from school, so parents are responsible for providing three meals a day. During the school year, many of our children receive free or reduced breakfast and lunch at school."