Johnson County employees helped out again to feed a growing need in our community with a successful 2017 Feed the Need campaign. This year's campaign has helped fill the shelves at seven local food pantries with more than 167 tons of food. The effort also benefits Community and Family Support Services at the four multi-service centers operated by the county's Human Services department. Results of the annual food drive, celebrating its 30th year, were announced Thursday, Aug. 24, to the Board of County Commissioners by Ellen Wernicke, director of Emergency Management and Communications and chairman of the 2017 Feed the Need campaign.
Awards, recognizing from less than one ton to more than 49 tons, were presented to representatives from various county departments and agencies. The Department of Treasury and Financial Management /Department of Motor Vehicle received both top honors — the Chairman's Award for the most overall donations by collecting more than 49.12 tons and the Commissioner's Award for the most donations per employee, with an employee average of 818.69 pounds.
The recipient of the Rick Beckwith Cup was the Airport Commission for having the highest percentage of increased collections from the previous year. The annual award honors Beckwith, a longtime Facilities Department employee and an active participant in Feed the Need campaigns who passed away in 2004.
Feed the Need collections support food pantries operated by Human Services in the Northeast Multi-Service Center, Mission; North-Central Multi-Service Center, Lenexa; and Southwest Multi-Service Center, Gardner. Human Services also operates the Olathe Multi-Service Center, which does not include a food pantry. The campaign also assists food pantries operated by Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, Shawnee Community Services, First Christian Church of Olathe and Salvation Army of Olathe.
Johnson County's Feed the Need campaign started in 1987 when the District Attorney's Office made a small donation, amounting to less than one ton, to a Shawnee food pantry. Since then, county government has donated more than four million pounds of donations for local pantries in the annual food drive.