“There’s so many ways we work together that I truly don’t think we would function without this partnership,” says CommUnity [formerly The Crisis Center of Johnson County] Manager Krystal Kabela.
CommUnity provides groceries for 700-900 local households weekly. What does Table to Table’s partnership mean for CommUnity, in one word? Krystal and CommUnity Warehouse Coordinator Matt Himschoot respond in unison: “Food!” CommUnity is the biggest food distribution organization in Johnson County, and, “Table to Table provides a large amount of our fresh ready-to-eat meals, produce, and bread,” says Matt.
Half of the food CommUnity distributes in our county comes through T2T. “We wouldn’t operate on the same scale without Table to Table, nor as ‘cheaply,’” Krystal says. Food recovered from retail can be a huge resource for food pantries, but it takes a lot of logistics and resources to collect it each day, and then a different set of resources to distribute it to our neighbors. That’s why T2T was founded with partners like CommUnity in mind, and our partnerships are critical, so each organization can focus on what they do best.
Each year, CommUnity connects more than a million pounds of T2T’s rescued food to our neighbors. They do that through a combination of a groceryshopping-model food pantry, home delivery from their food bank, and a mobile pantry that hosts distribution events in 11 neighborhoods in Johnson County.
We continue to find ways to collaborate. After T2T added a 22-ft. truck to our food rescue fleet, T2T volunteers began to pick up CommUnity’s weekly food orders from the food reservoir in Hiawatha. “It’s not as easy to make that happen without T2T’s partnership,” says Krystal.
“T2T has come to CommUnity’s aid on more than one occasion. They were absolute lifesavers when the derecho hit and took out the power. Without their refrigerated truck, we would have lost thousands of pounds of food from our coolers and freezers,” Director of Development Julia Winter remembers.
Last year in preparation for CommUnity’s annual Project Holiday, which delivers holiday meals to 1,500 local families, arrangements for a large truck to pick up frozen meat fell through at the last minute. Matt called T2T, somewhat in a state of desperation. T2T staff said: “No problem; come get the truck.”
“Had that not been available to us, we would have been in trouble. Project Holiday may not have existed in the manner that it did,” Krystal says.
This summer, the food rescue work at T2T has outpaced our current vehicle resources, so CommUnity has shared their van with us so we don’t miss any opportunity.
As Julia concludes, “We are so grateful to share walls and a mission with T2T! Our neighboring spaces are mutually beneficial and ensure we’re able to get food to the people who need it most. Our partnership is closer than ever and we’re excited to see where the future takes us.”