Johnson County residents can help "Feed the Need" of by dropping non-perishable food items and toiletries in marked barrels around the county as part of National County Government Month.
Feed the Need is a Johnson County Government employee-led initiative to stock food pantries around the county.
"Feed the Need is one of the most significant food and fundraising efforts for the food pantries," said Deborah Collins, director of the Human Services Department and co-chair of the current campaign. "It contributes literally tons of food that we otherwise would not be able to provide to families."
Employees have contributed the equivalent of 4.5 million pounds of food and toiletries since 1995. Last year, the seven food pantries operated by the County served 3,159 people in 1,189 households.
"When you are struggling to make ends meet -- working two and three jobs like so many of the people we serve do -- and still have to make hard choices at the end of each month such as whether to buy needed medications, pay rent, or buy groceries, places like the food pantries operated out of our Multi-Service Centers become a lifeline," said Collins. "And we don't just provide food. We also provide toiletries so that people can put their best face forward to keep or earn a job. Diapers make the difference between being able to take your child to daycare or having to miss work. Small things have a major impact on lower-income households."
Where to give:
Barrels are located at the following County buildings:
- Administration building; 111 S Cherry, Olathe
- Northeast office building; 6000 Lamar Avenue, Mission
- Sunset building; 11811 S. Sunset Drive, Olathe
- 588 Building; 588 E. Santa Fe, Olathe
- Johnson County Museum; 6305 Lackman Road, Shawnee
- Antioch Park Building A; 6501 Antioch Road, Merriam
- Shawnee Mission Park Administration Building; 7900 Renner Road, Shawnee
- Roeland Park Community Center; 4850 Rosewood Drive, Roeland Park
- New Century Fieldhouse; 551 New Century Parkway, New Century
- Mill Creek Activity Center; 6518 Vista Drive, Shawnee
- Okun Fieldhouse; 20200 Johnson Dr, Shawnee
- Heritage Park Golf Course Clubhouse; 16050 Pflumm Road, Olathe
- Tomahawk Hills Golf Course Clubhouse; 17501 Midland Drive, Shawnee
Poverty in Johnson County*
About 35,000 of Johnson County’s 550,000-plus residents live at or below the poverty line. However, most poverty experts agree that people still struggle to make ends meet at 200% of the federal poverty level: $39,580 annually for a family of three. Close to 95,000 County residents fit that description; the same number of residents who live in Lenexa and Leawood combined. If our poverty rate was a city it would be the 5th largest city in Johnson County.
Between 2008 and 2012, the number of low-income residents grew by 30% (22,740 people), six times the growth rate of the population as a whole.
A clearer demographic picture of low-income households in Johnson County:
- 56 percent are between 25 and 64 years old.
- 30 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher; another 31 percent have some college or an associate’s degree.
- 75 percent of families have at least one member working
- Only 27 percent is single moms with children
* information provided by a study conducted by United Community Services of Johnson County, May 2014