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Project Topeka looks to feed more families this year during annual drive



TOPEKA, Kan. – One of Project Topeka’s goals has always been to help fill a need in the community for those who are food insecure. As the organization kicks off its 35th annual Fighting Hunger Every Day food drive, it will look to restock local food pantries after the holidays.

This year’s Fighting Hunger Every Day kickoff will be held virtually and take place at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 12. Speakers during the kickoff will include Project Topeka vice president Amber Mertel, Let’s Help executive director Jennifer Loeffler and Randolph Elementary School principal Melissa Wells-Martin.

According to Dan Woodard, Project Topeka president, speakers during the kickoff will share about Project Topeka’s history, programs, including Fun Food Friday which started in 2018.

Project Topeka currently serves seven food pantries including Doorstep Inc., Let’s Help, I-Care, Topeka Rescue Mission, Faith and Family Fellowship, the Salvation Army and Topeka North Outreach.

Monetary and food donations are encouraged. Food donations can be made by calling Dan Woodard at 785-633-8795 and checks can be mailed to Project Topeka Food Drive, P.O. Box 5562, Topeka, KS 66605.

“Charitable giving has changed in recent years,” Woodard said. “All organizations are struggling to continue raising money to serve those in need. The corporate and individual support we receive is critical as food pantries tell us they could not do all that they do without the additional support provided by Project Topeka.”

The coronavirus pandemic has increased the number of people who requested food from pantries. Woodard said food donations in 2020 were heavily impacted.

In past years, Woodard said, Project Topeka quantified its food drive goal with hopes of having 200 tons of food donated. Now the organization instead focuses on feeding more families each year.

While 2020 proved to be a difficult year for Project Topeka, Woodard said many families stepped forward and donated their COVID-19 stimulus checks to the organization.

“They forwarded like $600 to $1,200 dollars to us and said they were OK but they know there are people that are hurting that’s normally not,” Woodard said. “They wanted to make the biggest impact with their dollar is the reason they donated to us. They knew it would go to several different places.”