The woman on the phone needs food. With six kids at home, she’s running a little short and doesn’t have enough to feed her family.
Food stamps won’t come in for another week or so. Money’s gone. Could she please get on the list for a pantry box?
“I have an opening on Friday,” volunteer May Kramer tells the mom from Kansas City, Kan.
One after another, the calls keep coming, all asking for the same thing: one of Shawnee Community Services’ 40-pound boxes of canned goods, pasta and crackers.
On Monday mornings, a staff member or a volunteer sits at a cluttered desk and takes the calls that flood the community food pantry and thrift store housed in a former QuikTrip at 11110 W. 67th St.
The agency has 55 to 70 pantry boxes available each week. Families can get a box once a month, but people can come to the agency every morning for free bread.
By the time the thrift store opened one recent Monday, eight people were in line at the door.
“Six of them took bread,” said Sylvia Terry, the executive director of the food pantry. The people who need help range from seniors to families with small children. In many cases, the households have two parents.
“Most of the time, one or the other is working. They just can’t make ends meet because everything continues to go up,” Terry said. “It takes all of us doing everything we can to make sure people are fed.”
For almost an hour on this Monday morning, the phone doesn’t stop ringing. By 9:30 a.m., about 40 people are on the list. About two-thirds of them have children.
Some tell stories of abject poverty. Others say they’re just stuck this month and need a little help.
The mom from Kansas City, Kan., tells Kramer she can’t wait until Friday for food for her six children. She asks for something a little sooner.
With a few mouse clicks, Kramer moves the family up to Tuesday.
“Sometimes people need food now,” she said.