Ryan Bowersox, Director of Marketing and Outreach for Just Food, explains how the agency has expanded its programs in Douglas County beyond the food bank itself. 

Just Food serves 150-300 families each day, providing access to nutritious food while maintaining a sense of dignity for all.  The organization seeks to address the root causes of hunger and to cultivate self-sufficiency .  Just Food also works to establish a culture of stewardship, sustainability, transparency, diversity and equity.  Elizabeth Keever is Executive Director and is responsible for operations, working with an advisory board. 

Program elements consist of food recovery,  pantry shopping and mobile food distribution for rural areas of the county as well as a popular diaper bank.  The newly remodeled main facility hosts educational classes like Just Cook, which provides instruction in food preparation and nutrition.  Kitchen Works prepares people for careers in food service, and Just Grow teaches gardening techniques and makes garden plots available. 

Volunteers play a critical role by working in the food pantry, in the warehouse, as drivers and as instructors.  Volunteers also assist in putting on special food and fund raising events. 

Just Food collaborates with at least 19 agencies to deliver services. Partners include Bert Nash, the Lawrence Community Shelter, the Humane Society, the Willow Domestic Violence Center, Lawrence Memorial Hospital, the Lawrence school system, the University of Kansas, and Haskell University. 

The pandemic has contributed to a huge increase in hunger in the county. Eligibility requirements for service are minimal, and half of the people served are Caucasian. In 2020, 22,433 people were served, almost 2,000 home deliveries were made, 653,473 pounds of food was recovered,  57,600 diapers were distributed, 28 coaching sessions were conducted, and 11,901 volunteer hours were logged.