Thousands of Greater Kansas City residents are celebrating the recent success of Munch Madness, a month-long fundraising and hunger awareness effort that generated nearly $141,000 in March.
Organized by Metro Lutheran Ministry (MLM), the effort was boosted by two matching gifts, one from Blessings Abound Thrift Store in Overland Park and another from the Frederick and Louise Hartwig Family Fund. Their $70,000 gift was matched by MLM supporters for a total of $140,944.41 that will now fund MLM’s three food pantries in Jackson, Wyandotte and Clay counties.
This week, that success was celebrated in churches and other gatherings throughout Greater Kansas City and in hundreds of homes where families and individuals rely on MLM support even temporarily. “People who can’t afford to buy food are faced with impossible trade-offs every day,” explained Kimberlye Bernard, Community Assistance manager. “Many routinely choose between feeding their family and other basic needs such as paying utility bills, medical care and even housing.”
For nonprofit organizations like MLM, the ever-growing presence of hunger brings another set of difficult tradeoffs: a shortage of pantry items, diverting funds from other agency programs and tapping into operating reserves. The Munch Madness success occurred because of 383 generous donors, countless volunteers, the Overland Park thrift store and the foundation. It means the annual budget for all three of MLM’s emergency food pantries has been fully covered in just the 31 days of March and other programs will not be shorted in order to pay for food.
MLM operates almost exclusively on contributions, grants and individual donations to serve residents of Greater Kansas City at six locations in Clay, Jackson and Wyandotte counties. Programs include food, utility and rent assistance, job skills and readiness training, permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals with disabilities, Saturday hot breakfast programs, minor home repair for low income seniors, financial literacy programs and more.