Kiwanis food bank shelves empty as need spikes
By Traci Chapman
Mustang Kiwanis Club has a big problem. Its food pantry shelves are bare, yet the need is still there – and growing.
“It’s a very serious situation,” Lila Hoover said. “We have a lot of families and seniors who depend on us, and we don’t have food to give to them.”
Donations have been down over the summer, but that’s when the need actually spikes. In addition to a growing number of seniors who depend on the food bank, families who count on school meals to help supplement their food supply are left fending for themselves, Hoover said. It’s times like this the organization truly needs more and more donations, she said.
“We receive food donations from schools’ harvest drives, but those donations usually don’t come in until late October or middle November,” Hoover said.
The food bank is open from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. each Saturday. In addition to helping residents in need each week, Kiwanis also provide a special meal at Thanksgiving and Christmas for about 115 families, all of which have students attending Mustang schools, Hoover said. When the organization receives fresh vegetables, it passes those on, in addition to primarily dry and canned goods received from benefactors.
In May, Kiwanis provided food baskets for 41 families, including 47 children and 91 adults. In June, that number dropped slightly – 35 families comprised of 40 children and 62 adults. In just the three weeks of July, the organization has given out 29 food baskets for 37 children and 65 adults.
“We are really seeing a surge in seniors who need help,” Hoover said.
Service is the heart of Mustang Kiwanis Club, Hoover said. Chartered in April 1971, the club has 32 active members. In addition to the food pantry, Kiwanis interacts with the community, particularly with a goal of helping area children, she said. Key Club is a service organization for teens and is a “strong force” at Mustang High School, Hoover said.
“It teaches leadership through service to others,” she said.
Builders Club is like Key Club, but for slightly younger youth, Hoover said. Aimed at providing students with leadership activities that improve self-esteem and increase civic pride and interaction, clubs are active at both Mustang and Mustang North middle schools.
The area’s youngest children are also recognized through a partnership between Kiwanis and Mustang schools. Terrific Kids is an academic and character development achievement program for children between 6 and 12 years of age.
Schoolchildren are not the only recipients of Kiwanis’ work, however, Hoover said. The organization is key in providing a Christmas dinner for area troops headquartered out of Mustang Armed Forces Reserve Center. Last year, about 650 soldiers and their families were treated to the holiday meal and related activities, Hoover said. The organization also sponsors its annual Western Days pancake breakfast, a garage sale aimed at raising funds and twice-a-year carnivals.
“Kiwanis clubs also provide excellent networking opportunities for professionals,” Hoover said.
Mustang Kiwanis Club meets on Saturday mornings at 7:30 a.m. at the old police station, behind Mustang Historical Museum.
Donations can be cash or food items and are tax deductible. To make a donation or learn more about Mustang Kiwanis, call Hoover at (405) 625-3128 or Glen Muse at (405) 376-2695.
“By working together, members achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone,” Hoover said. “When you give a child the chance to learn, experience, dream, grow, succeed and thrive, great things happen.”