ROBERT PIERCE • Leader & Times
Food is a necessity every day, but the holiday season tends to make the need for eating even bigger.
Whether it is Christmas, Thanksgiving or any other day of the year, Southwest Kansas has some food pantries in its communities, including one that is part of the clinic at Genesis Family Health.
GFH Community Health Worker Daisey Hernandez said the pantry is open to both patients and non-patients.
“We do accept walk-ins and appointments,” she said. “It’s only once a month just for assistance. We also offer other services like the commodities. That’s every two months, and during the holidays, we are giving out dinner baskets. They’re reserved.”
Genesis likewise has a Christmas dinner basket program to help with local holiday hunger needs.
“We get all our food from the Kansas Food Bank, and thankfully, we got a big donation from the Community Bank here in Liberal of $5,000 and a small donation from Cozy Corner to help out with the food pantries,” Hernandez said. “We didn’t have any funds, but we were still giving out produce boxes to the community members.”
Hernandez began working as a CHW at Genesis in March, and she was joined by Mileiny Hermosillo in that capacity in August. Hernandez said the GFH food services help about 2,000 people a year.
“It’s definitely a lot of people,” she said. “I think every month I’ve done it, we’ve had 100 individuals a month.”
As part of the food pantry, Genesis likewise has a mobile pantry on a specific day once every two months, including one scheduled for today. Hernandez said she and Hermosillo hope to keep the pantry in place for the long run.
“We do have to continue to seek donations,” Hernandez said. “We’re also looking for monetary donations since $500 can only go so far, but we do try to offer as much as we can especially during the times when our budget isn’t the best.”
Hernandez said donations from the Kansas Food Bank are done with no shipping charges, which means at minimum, those who receive from the pantry will get a box of fruits and vegetables.
“So far, I want to keep the numbers how they’re going at around 100 or so individuals, if not more, or at least try to refer them to the (Liberal Area Coalition for Families) or other organizations in the Liberal area,” she said.
Hernandez said when GFH is lacking on food and people are in need of more assistance, flyers with information about other local organizations and churches where they can go will be given out.
“It has a listed address, phone number and when it is every month,” she said.
Hernandez said at the end of months, Genesis’ pantry tends to have lower resources of food, but deliveries at the beginning of the next month normally help make up the difference.
“We should be back up on stock, but we do still have enough food to give out like canned goods, flour, cereal, milk,” she said. “We still have a couple of things to give out, but we’re trying to ration it so we’re not completely out of stock at the end of the month and trying to have as much overstock as possible in case we have walk-ins we aren’t familiar with.”
Today’s mobile pantry is the last scheduled for 2023, and the next one will take place in January 2024.
Hermosillo said those wanting to take advantage of the Genesis food pantry can do so by appointment, walk in or calling the clinic’s front desk. Commodities, however, have another means of receiving.
“It works more like a drive-thru where it’s first come, first serve,” she said. “They line up outside in their cars. We just take their name, household size and their address and if they’re low income and receive any government assistance like (the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program).”
Hernandez said people are welcome to come to the food pantry at GFH at 2330 N. Kansas Ave. in Liberal, and delivery is available for those who do not have transportation.
“If they let us know ahead of time, we can most likely deliver it to them,” she said. “For commodities, we can’t. That’s more of a first come, first serve basis, but for the food pantry, we absolutely are willing to deliver it at whatever time of day they need or when they would like their appointment.”
For more information about the Genesis food pantry and other food services at the clinic, call Hernandez at 620-214-6111.