A statement by Salina Emergence Aid Food Bank Executive Director Karen Couch at a Thursday Project Salina kickoff event summed up the mood of the day. She said “hunger is not a choice, but sharing food is.”
A group of motivated Salinans gathered to rally, and kick-off the 2022 Project Salina effort. Salina’s annual largest organized effort to feed the hungry began with an in person gathering for the first time since 2019.
Project Salina unites multiple businesses and organizations in an effort to collect food for five agencies that serve meals, or distribute food, throughout the year. Food will be collected throughout the month of May.
This year the need is even greater for the five agencies that feed Salina’s hungry. The agencies include:
- Ashby House
- Salina Rescue Mission
- Salina Emergency Aid Food Bank
- Salina Salvation Army
- Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas
Some startling numbers were shared during the kickoff event:
- Last year the food bank handed out over 480,000 items. This year they are on pace to hand out 40,000 more, or over $1 million more.
- The Salina Salvation Army had to acquire a box truck to more efficiently haul much larger quantities of needed food. Seeing a need for Sunday meals, the agency started serving an evening meal in a Salina park on Sunday afternoons from 4-6. To date over 700 meals have been served just on that one day a week. Additionally, 200 families have reached out to the agency for food help so far this year.
- The Salina Rescue Mission says there were at least 2,000 homeless people locally last year. The agency served 53,000 meals to the homeless last year, and will serve just as many this year.
- The Domestic Violence Association of Central Kansas is now one of the few shelters in Kansas that can accept men, women, children, dogs, and cats. The number of domestic violence victims they helped last year more than doubled, and they are on pace for even more this year.
This year marks the 33rd year of the effort. Project Salina began back in 1990. It started as an idea to help agencies that provide food when their need is the greatest, in the summer months. The agencies typically see a lot of donations during the holidays, but by the summer months their shelves are getting bare.
In that first year, 23 organizations gathered 56,465 food items for three local agencies. The effort has grown over the years.
Salina Meridian Media Radio Stations will be gathering cereal, both cold and hot, as part of the Project Salina effort. Several events are planned, including collection efforts at Salina grocery stores and a couple of “Cruisn’ for a Cause” events.