Summer brings shortages to local food banks at JB, Feed My People

By Erin Achenbach
Staff Reporter
eachenbach@callnewspapers.com

Although summer for most people means fewer worries and more vacations, summer for some local food banks brings the annual worry of not having enough donations.

The Jefferson Barracks Military Food Bank, a food bank that serves all branches of active duty military, veterans, the reserves and their families, and Feed My People, an organization that serves the poor in South St. Louis County, both exist solely on community and individual donations.

Jefferson Barracks Military Food Bank pantry coordinator Linda Ferguson said donations are highest in November and December, when people are in a “giving spirit.” However, summer months often mean a lack of contributions.

“We’ve been at Jefferson Barracks for 10 years and for 10 years’ time, when kids are out of school and vacations start, we see that we don’t get the donations we usually do,” said Ferguson. “Our shortage right now is high. People just aren’t thinking about us.”

Roy Wunsch, Feed My People’s manager of special events, cites more mouths to feed as part of the reason food supplies face a shortage in the summer.

“There’s more clients in the summer and we have to feed more mouths since kids aren’t receiving subsidized lunches at school during holidays,” Wunsch said.

Both food banks provide not only non-perishable food items to clients, but also basic necessities like toilet paper, diapers, soap and feminine hygiene products.

“When we see a soldier or veteran in a difficult situation, we load them up,” said Ferguson. “It helps them stretch their dollar to use toward other things like car payments, rent or if they have children.”

Two thrift stores run by Feed My People help bring in enough revenue to purchase supplies throughout the year whenever donations might be low. The group relies heavily on volunteers to keep overhead costs low so revenue can go to helping others.

“We’re always taking volunteers,” said Wunsch, “When people see the impact we have in communities, it encourages them to get others involved.”

For those considering donating food items from their personal pantries to either organization, Ferguson encourages everyone to check expiration dates before dropping anything off.

“Sometimes we’ll get a huge bag of donations and we’ll be so excited,” she said. “But once we go through it, we end up having to throw half of it out because items are past their expiration dates.”

Both organizations will be hosting fund-raising events in October.

Feed My People will be hosting “Race Against Hunger,” a competitive 5K race and one-mile family fun run on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Jefferson Barracks Park, 365 North Road. All of the registration fees and money raised goes back to Feed My People. Nonperishable foods and personal care items will also be collected at the event.

Jefferson Barracks Military Food Bank will be hosting a “Hot Rod Trunk or Treat” and a water-bottle drive at Fairway Automotive, 8750 Watson Road, on Friday, Oct. 26. Attendees are encouraged to donate cases of water in exchange for raffle tickets to be entered into a drawing to win a vintage car.

For further information on how to volunteer or donate, visit https://www.feed-my-people.org/ or http://heroescare.org/ services/food-pantries/.