A joint-service club effort to increase local food kitchen reserves is underway in its second month in Traxler Park, and organizer Lisa Johnson said she was past wondering if her idea was “over the top.”
“I called it crazy at first because I didn’t know if it would work,” said Johnson, a Janesville Noon Kiwanis member. It was the first time he could recall the eight local nonprofit service groups working together on such a trip.
And this is a drive-up food delivery, which can be done in city parks, during COVID-19.
But COVID and the temporary shortages in food donations it causes for Janesville’s non-profit social service food kitchen, ECHO, are the reasons Johnson is trying to work with some local clubs to help.
“We are a service group. People began to remember when there was a need. So there is no real problem, “said Johnson.
The Janesville Joint Service Club Drive-Thru on two weekend trips last month and as of Sunday has raised more than $ 4,000 in food and donations.
On Sundays, it’s hard to say at 10 a.m. what the four-hour collection will bring, but the individual items include many pastas and ingredients for spaghetti, soup, lots of paper towels and even shrink-wrapped smoked sausages.
Only one hiccup came during the trip.
Johnson, also a member of the Janesville Women’s Voters League, did double duty at the food drive by handing out Wisconsin League of Women Voters flyers. The flyers were to show anyone who came how they could register to vote if necessary.
The effort drew a crew of half a dozen men who came to Sunday’s drive and sat at a nearby picnic table, monitoring Johnson as he handed out voter registration reminders.
Johnson said the people initially asked him if he had come to Traxler Park to “harvest ballots.”
“I told them that we were only here to do food raisers and distribute voting flyers. I don’t even know how to ‘harvest’ ballots. It sounds like a crime to me, so I probably wouldn’t do it, “said Johnson.
Late August, the drive-thru Joint Service Club has hosted an inaugural effort on Saturday. ECHO kitchen coordinator, Jessica Locher, said the group’s efforts in late August attracted about $ 1,000 in food and $ 2,000 in donations.
Locher said the effort helped because this summer ECHO had to cancel its main food campaign, an event that typically fills the ECHO kitchen with about $ 60,000 in food and in-kind donations. In addition, several federal food-sharing programs launched during the early months of the pandemic have ended.
It has led more families to return to kitchen rolls like ECHO, and the pressure is showing.
“This weekend trip helped us provide enough food through our kitchen for the people for the week. It’s really helpful, especially nowadays, ”Locher said, suggesting that the $ 3,000 or more donation of the first drive was fully used.
Johnson said the joint-service club’s efforts did not schedule another ECHO food mover, but Johnson said the possibility of the fall could bring another effort to the gathering at Traxler Park.
It will continue to be accepted.
Locher said the ECHO saw a big drop earlier this year from live food donations at 65 S. High St. headquarters. ECHO is still open from 9am to 4pm throughout the week for food gathering. Donors, Locher said, can leave food donations on marked carts placed in front of the property.
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