Topeka Rescue Mission launches Operation Food Secure

Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 7:16 PM CDT
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The Topeka Rescue Mission (TRM) is taking a new approach to helping with food insecurity with Operation Food Secure.

Neighborhood leaders help deliver food to people who are unable to get to stores, or distribution sites.

Organizations including the United States Department of Agriculture, Citygate Network and the White House reached out to TRM to create a program to address food insecurity for those who are home bound.

Executive Director Barry Feaker said Monday concentrating the food distribution as a delivery service can be a gateway to other means of help.

According to Feaker, the Rescue Mission is a recipient of a federal program called “Farmers to Families” which helps connect the organization to food distributors to come into agreement to receive food, after TRM stores it, people who have looked into their neighborhood’s needs get the food to deliver to those in need.

"There's unseen challenges that are going on in people's homes and people's lives and we're probably seeing the tip of that iceberg and we're trying to get ahead of that now to do one thing that's basic to all of us and that's food.”

Feaker said the mission of Operation Food Secure is three-fold: provide immediate hunger relief, strengthen relationships between neighbors, and help people become more food sustainable and TRM’s has been working with City of Topeka officials and other organizations including churches and schools to find out where the most help is needed.

"If we're successful we will be able to get to know the community needs in a much greater way people who are receiving help will feel more hope in their lives as well as people helping them will feel better part of the community; it's one of those things that every community especially in America is asking the question: are we a community or are we not?"

Feaker said Topeka is an ideal area to launch the program.

"There's always been a need to help people to help stabilize them in their situations in life, could be health issues could be loss of job could be mental health issues different things that happen in life, there's always been a need to help people who are struggling,” he said.

“Topeka's been very good about doing that a very generous community when they find out there's a need they meet the need.”

2017 Washburn University graduate Marissa Dake is directing the program; she recently worked in Washington, D.C in food and agriculture policy.

“I really wanted to get engaged in such a unique moment in time to be able to bring not only relief in this moment to people who are feeling the impact of COVID-19 but also this is really a preventative measure because looking long-term in this global, economic depression and what our nation is facing—we’re not out of the woods yet.”

Dake said she was moved by the element of the program that it helps avoid food from going to waste as well as helping prevent hunger.

“What I find so inspiring about this program is that it recovers food and prevents food loss and food waste…hunger is not an issue of ‘enough food’ we have enough food in this world to produce enough food to make sure every man, woman and child can have 2500 calories a day, it’s really about food access,” she said.

"It's just a good reminder for folks that this is going to be part of the new normal and this is the chance to be engaged and be involved."

Dake added this is also the opportunity to bring the community back together.

"The Coronavirus crisis did a number on making people feel isolated and alone and I think there's a lot of ground that can be gained back in building relationships and being involved in the needs of your community and engaging there."

If you are interested in getting involved with operation food secure or know of anyone who might need their assistance click here.