The McPherson County Food Bank has begun a campaign to add about 2,000 square feet to its current building.
The goal of the two-year campaign is to raise $200,000 by Sept. 30, 2014. Letters are being sent to area churches to announce the campaign and ask for financial help at the start of "Food Bank Month."
"We have a lot of generous people in McPherson County," Elmer Hanson, 21-year volunteer, said. "We have never been let down. I'm so appreciative of this community and their support. As soon as they know we need help, I feel we'll be supported very well."
The number of families receiving items from the food bank has increased during the past five years, with a 31 percent jump from 2010 to 2011. Last year, more than 2,500 families, including 9,054 individuals, were served and 182,170 pounds of food was distributed. This is significantly more than the 1,792 families served in 2007.
This demand has increased the food bank's need for additional space.
The expansion, which will extend to the north of the current building at 707 S. Main St., will include more seating in the waiting room, movable partitions, an office in which families will be able to fill out paperwork, and several more areas of storage space. In addition, an ADA-compliant bathroom will be added to the southeast part of the building, and a walk-in freezer will be added to the east side of the building.
"It's certainly going to be more inviting for them to come in to a place that is more receptive and more leisurely," Hanson said.
The added comfort was a large reason the expansion was necessary, as many were forced to stand or wait outside on busy days.
It also will allow room for more growth. The food bank already has seen an increase in demand in 2012 and expects this trend to continue, especially as grocery prices continue to rise.
Food prices are what have been one of the biggest obstacles for the food bank. The food bank is currently spending about three times the amount it usually spends this time of year, which is consistently a slow time of year for donations.
"We are having to spend more money than we'd like to," Hanson said. "At the rate we're spending for groceries now, we would deplete our funds in the not-so-distant future."
The letters to the churches also make a request for food donations.
For donations, they accept nonperishable food items, such as canned fruits, vegetables meats and soups, cereals, hamburger helper and macaroni and cheese. Nonfood items, such as toilet tissue, paper towels and diapers, also are accepted.
These donations can be dropped of at the food bank during their open hours of 10 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Tuesdays, or 2 to 4:45 p.m. Fridays. Donations are also being accepted at The McPherson Sentinel office at 301 S. Main St. until Oct. 12.
Page 2 of 2 - To be eligible for food from the food bank, individuals or families must be interviewed and obtain a voucher (from the Social Rehabilitation Service, McPherson County Health Department, church pastors, or county senior centers) indicating their needs. The vouchers must be presented at every visit, which is only allowed six times in six months.
The McPherson County Food Bank was started in 1983.