Local food bank works to stay ahead of the local need



Earlier this month, children from the vacation Bible school sponsored jointly by Trinity Mennonite, United Methodist, and First Mennonite churches contributed about 700 pounds of food and $330 to support the food bank at Main Street Ministries.

The resources were delivered on a Friday. They were depleted by noon the following day.

That?s been the track record this summer for Main Street Ministries, located at Main and D streets in Hillsboro.

?It has completely just sky-rocketed,? said Josh Gibbs, MSM director, about the growing patronage of the food bank. ?It really started when the economy started going down, and the need just keeps going up and up.

?We serve between 70 and 80 people a week now.?

Gibbs said the food bank is operating day-to-day to meet that need.


?We?re pretty much always under the gun here, especially the private food donations that people can bring and leave on the shelves here and the (former) ambulance ramp. Those have gone way down. So we?re relying solely on what we can buy.?

Main Street has purchased food at a discounted price at the Kansas Food Bank in Wichita, but Gibbs said the demand has increased and donations have slipped there, too.

?Lately, the best deals have been right here in town,? he said. ?We?ve been buying locally a lot.?

Last November, the ministry launched the ?Don?t Have a Cow Project,? where local farmers can donate cattle to be processed for food. The ministry picks up the animal and pays the processing, and the meat comes back to the food bank for distribution.

?At one time, we had eight cows,? Gibbs said. ?But from November to May we went through all eight of them. We?re completely out.?

He said MSM would welcome more cattle donations.

?We can always give a receipt to someone who wants to donate, because I know beef is at an all-time high (price). It?s kind of hard to let that go.?

Divine provision

Dale Nuss, chairman of the Main Street board of directors, said while the need for food continues to grow, so far the food bank has never had to turn someone away. He likened the situation to an Old Testament story of Divine provision.

?Like the oil in the jar, there?s always enough for one more meal,? he said.

Nuss said the board and staff are thankful for the support of the community through donations and volunteerism.

?The local donations are a significant source for our food bank,? he said. ?But the need just continues to grow, which I think speaks to our economy. It?s not quite as good as we?d like to think it is.

?It?s not just a Hillsboro or Marion County phenomenon,? he added. ?It?s statewide.?

With the start of school, Nuss expects the demand for food to ease a bit.

?That?s something we?ve been able to track,? he said. ?Our summer months are always our biggest months. When kids are in school, we know they?re getting at least one meal a day there, and sometimes two if they use the breakfast program.

?Maybe that will help lighten our load a bit, too.?

New director

Leah Rose recently was hired as food bank director. She grew up in Hesston, attended Tabor College, and recently returned from a 10-month mission assignment in Thailand.

?I have really felt called to ministry and missions for several years now,? Rose said. ?I heard that Main Street had an opening, and I was kind of like maybe that?s something God has for me. I inquired about it and the ball got rolling pretty quick.

?And here I am.?

Rose?s first day was Monday. In addition to managing the food bank, she wants to develop a program for the 10 children of the five mothers who live at the ministry, and the four whose parents are staff members.

To find out more about donating time, food or money to Main Street Ministries call 620-947-3393.

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