‘Loafing’ around: One local resident flours town with needed bread, grain

Sara Kelly, left, hands some bread to her daughter, Malleeyah Barrett, on Wednesday night. She and her daughter have distributed many loaves of bread these past few days. Wendy Nugent/Newton Now

By Wendy Nugent, Newton Now

NEWTON—Two thousand, 500 pounds of flour can make a lot of bread, and since it takes about a pound of flour for one loaf of bread, that’s 2,500 loaves of bread.

Flour is a staple for folks around the world and especially in the U.S. Wheat Belt, like the state of Kansas, where wheat is a major crop.

Starting Wednesday, Sara Kelly began distributing loaves of bread made by Mennonites associated with Meridian Mennonite Church in Hesston.

The recipe for the bread distribution started with Ardent Mills contacting Newton Fire/EMS Lt. Joe Martin, saying they wanted to donate the flour, who then contacted Kelly, who then got ahold of Carl Jantz with the church, and then church members agreed to make bread. They made around 200 loaves, Kelly said. On Wednesday night, Kelly had 70 to 80 loaves in her vehicle she and her daughter, Malleeyah Barrett, were out distributing.

“She’s just been along for the ride,” Kelly said about her daughter. “Trying to teach her about community engagement, as well.”

Kelly is the project manager, taking the project on with her own free time. As project manager, she’s not affiliated with any organization.

There’s one reason everyone is doing this.

“To give back to the community,” she said. “We’ve all gotta pitch in for things to work, stemming from the virus and knowing this will continue.”

Ardent Mills contacted Martin to give away the flour because Martin is involved with the Newton Firefighters Shopping for Seniors project, where firefighters get food for senior citizens and other supplies they might need and bring them to the seniors, who pay for the items.

Kelly said the bread/flour group delivered 400 to 500 pounds of flour to the food bank/Salvation Army, and some went to the homeless shelter, as well.

The loaves are being distributed in the community.

“I’ve been engaged on Facebook a little bit about the project,” Kelly said, adding the first phase is intended for the food bank and homeless shelter.

“Seeing as though it was a bit more than expected, I am distributing it tonight to community members around town,” Kelly said on Wednesday.

“Continuing to fill the need as long as we can with as much resources as are available,” she said.

For those wishing to help out, they don’t need flour. What they need is yeast. Kelly said people wanting to donate yeast can message her on Facebook.

On Wednesday night, Kelly had planned to just open her trunk to the community in the Wal-Mart parking lot for free bread.

“This is a multi-step project, so for now, we will be distributing those loaves to food pantries and food banks,” Kelly said. “We will reassess each week and be partnering with some local places to be ‘drive-by’ distributing sites into the near future. I am reaching out to some people who have contacted me regarding their desperate need for flour and will be starting with small distributions to them.”