by Bill Bush
COUNTY—What had been a quiet ministry going about its routine of feeding people in Newton was thrust last week to the forefront of the county’s preparation plans to deal with the upcoming potential of wide-spread joblessness and need for food.
Harvest of Love, a non-profit ministry of the Newton Ministerial Alliance, recently received $25,000 from the County Commission to stock up its shelves.
Clint McBroom, Harvest of Love treasurer, said they spent one-fifth of the money on diapers, wipes, and formula for Heartland Pregnancy Center, with the remainder going toward food.
Even though Harvest of Love services all of Harvey County, McBroom said that the other towns have food pantries, which they encourage people from those towns to use. While Harvest of Love usually focuses their service on the Newton community, with the COVID-19 pandemic, they have changed their approach.
“Not only will we be serving the people of Harvey County, we want to serve the food pantries of Harvey County as well,” McBroom said. “We are planning on meeting any needs that arise related to food in the community based off of the Cova 19 situation.”
In the past they’ve handed out three-month food boxes, but now they’ve gone to smaller distributions on a weekly basis.
Jay Hawes, who serves on the leadership team of the Newton Ministerial Alliance, said they’ve doubled their regular orders and are stocking up with the expectation that the loss of jobs and increasing need for food to arrive in full force in the next few weeks.
They purchase non perishable foods and meat, which can be frozen and kept until needed. Hawes said they project the crisis will extend out for weeks if not months and that it will have a huge effect on people who are unemployed.
“We want to make sure that we’re doing whatever we can to support individuals and families that are struggling during this interim,” Hawes said.
McBroom pointed out that even though the school is providing free lunches, some families don’t have transportation to pick them up, which will increase their food budget because they have to prepare meals at home.
He said that Harvest of Love has received some very generous donations over the past two weeks that they hadn’t expected or solicited.
“Thank you to the community,” McBroom said. “People just see that there’s a need and the Newton community should be proud of themselves through this. I’ve seen our community act in ways that other communities I think can only dream of.”
Assistance has also come from outside of Harvey County.
Hawes said that a lieutenant from the local fire department heard about and notified him that Ardent Mills was donating 5,000 pounds of flour. Harvest of Love was able to get some of it donated so everybody got a five-pound bag of flour last week.
McBroom said they can accept donations of perishable in addition to non-perishable food items. Those interested in donating food items should call the Salvation Army at 316-283-3190.
Financial donations can be made by sending a check made out to either Harvest of Love of the Newton Ministerial Alliance and mailed to P.O. Box 1084, Newton, KS, 67114.
For those who find themselves in need, whether now or in the weeks to come, should call the Salvation Army to set up an appointment to get food. For safety precautions, only staff and volunteers are allowed inside the Salvation Army.
Hawes said one of the big needs soon would be volunteers to help pass out food. He said to volunteer, contact Wendy Basye at the Salvation Army, number listed above.
“I’m just very, very encouraged during a time in which everything seems so uncertain to have something that is certain,” Hawes said. “Every career, every industry, every family is impacted a little bit differently.”