The Flint Hills Breadbasket, established in 1982 to
minimize hunger and poverty and to provide food for those needing assistance
in the Manhattan community, has experienced many changes this year. These changes have ranged from an increase in donations and number of people helped to developing fundraising
events to better help the community.
The Flint Hills Breadbasket has strong ties with different organizations around K-State.
“K-State is a great help to the breadbasket,” said Maribeth Kieffer, executive director of the Flint Hills Breadbasket. “Different organizations at K-State are always involved like state employees, sororities and fraternities, the agriculture department and the leadership studies school. We could not provide all that we can and do here without K-State.”
Sharon Breiner, professor in the School of Leadership Studies, explained the impact the Flint Hills Breadbasket has on both the campus and the community.
“The Flint Hills Breadbasket works to serve friends and neighbors of our campus and community with dignity and respect while working to minimize hunger and poverty,” Breiner said. “As a community we are very fortunate to have a place like this to provide residents with temporary and long-term assistance.”
The School of Leadership Studies recently held an annual canned food drive called “Cats For Cans.” Students collected cans, presented them to the breadbasket and assisted Breadbasket members by sorting the various items.
“We hope to go again to sort [cans] later in the fall as they get more holiday donations,” Breiner said.
Many students at K-State have volunteered their time and effort to give back to the community through the Flint Hills Breadbasket.
“I think the Breadbasket affects the community by helping out those in need, and it really makes the community aware of people in need of food — that it not only occurs in different countries, but it occurs in the United States as well. Even in small towns like Manhattan,” said Lexsie Newcomer, freshman in kinesiology.
Newcomer has volunteered with the Breadbasket on several occasions and described her experiences as beneficial.
“The people that work at the Breadbasket are very friendly and appreciative of all the help,” Newcomer said. “I think community members would love to help because at the end of the day you feel good knowing that people donated all that food and that you played a small part helping with that.”
According to the Flint Hills Breadbasket website, breadbasket.manhattanks.org, 24.7 percent of Riley County citizens live at
or below poverty level. This is something the organization has worked on improving in years past but is focusing on more than ever this year.
“So much has changed this year. We have been so busy with
activities,” Kieffer said.
Kieffer stated that the
Breadbasket has seen a major increase in the number of families helped this year, topping
22,000 people so far in 2012 in spite of having only three staff members; the organization had four staff members in prior years, and the number of those helped is on the
The Breadbasket fundraisers will also include new twists that the organization hopes will attract more donations to assist more citizens. Kieffer said the Junior League of the Flint Hills, a women’s organization dedicated to promoting voluntarism and leadership, will plan the Adopt-A-Family program, which provides gifts to needy families during the winter holidays, from now on.
Additionally, the annual
Thanksgiving Dinner that has been held at Manhattan High School in the past will be held at Old Chicago this year.
Events the Flint Hills Breadbasket hosted this year
include “Souper Bowl,” “Boy Scouts Scouting For Food,” “National Association
of Letter Carriers Annual Food Drive,” “Take a Swing at Hunger Golf Tournament,” and the “Kaw Valley Rodeo” to name a few. All Breadbasket events are
aimed at raising non-perishable food items to feed those in need.
The Flint Hills Breadbasket has many upcoming events for the
fall and winter seasons. Kieffer described November and December as “our
busiest time of year.”
On Nov. 3, as the K-State Wildcats take on Oklahoma
State, volunteers of the Flint Hills Breadbasket will hold a “Cats for Cans” event at Bill Snyder Family Stadium to raise funds. This event has the potential
to make a great impact on the community.
“If everyone who attends gave $1, that would make 20
percent of our program costs for the year. Just one dollar would make a huge
difference,” Kieffer said.
Other events taking place in the upcoming
months include the Manhattan Community Thanksgiving Dinner, “Mayor’s Holiday Food and Fund Drive,” “Mayor’s Spirit of the Holiday Lighted Parade” and Adopt-A-Family.
Opportunities to volunteer at the Flint Hills Breadbasket
are always available and encouraged by the organization. The Breadbasket is especially thankful for volunteers who contribute time in the holiday months.
“We appreciate what everyone does for the Breadbasket,” Kieffer said. “The
people of Manhattan are so helpful. With the increase of those in need
doubling, we have to work as a team. As long as there is a
need for a Breadbasket, people will help those in need.”