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In this month of celebrating freedom in America, we are burdened with the knowledge that not everyone in our community gets to enjoy the same freedoms we do. The freedom of having good health, the ability to work, financial security, familial support - these are just some of the elements to living a life of freedom, and yet these elements are missing from the lives of those we serve at TRM.


As food insecurity and economic struggles continue to impact our community, we are seeing more people come to TRM for services than ever before. This month we would like to highlight the increased numbers of people coming to our Distribution Center for food boxes. These food boxes are distributed twice a week to anyone who needs them in Topeka and the surrounding areas, and contain almost $100 worth of healthy, nourishing food - including fresh and frozen meats, vegetables and fruit.


As of the end of May 2023 our food distribution stats currently come in as the following:

In the first five months of 2023 (January-May), we distributed: 

5,270 food boxes, which equates to 173,904 meals served

We served 10,869 individuals, of which 3,366 are unduplicated

Since the beginning of 2023 our Distribution Center has served 229 families that have never accessed our food ministry before.


If we compare that to the previous year (2022), in each category we have seen an increase of the following in only a year’s time:

We have distributed 17.1% more food boxes or a 117.1% increase

We have provided 21.6% more meals. We have served 1,937 more individuals

Of which 424 more were unduplicated. We have seen 77 more new families this year than we had last year at this time.


However, what is more interesting is how this compares to the pre/early Covid numbers of 2020.

Since 2020 we have seen:

A 200% increase in the number of food boxes distributed 

In 2020 we provided 2,641 food boxes, while this year (2023) we have provided 5,270 food boxes as of the end of May.


Holton Witman, TRM’s Director of Distribution Services says, “As we have been feeling the increase, I began to ask where is this increase coming from? For the last month we decided to track something we hadn’t ever done in the past. I had my staff keep track of those families who have not accessed food services from us or any other agency in over a year. We have had 184 families come to us in the last month that hadn’t been here in over a year. With some families not having accessed food services since as far back as 2006. I asked that particular family why it had been so long since their last visit and to see how they were doing. I wondered if they had moved away and come back, but when they responded they simply said: “We hadn’t needed anything until now.” I think that statement paints a perfect picture of what many in our community are now facing. Rising interest rates, Covid era food benefits expiring, higher grocery prices, and fuel and housing increases have placed a heavy burden on those in Topeka and our surrounding communities.” 


Holton goes on to say, “I am constantly amazed at how God works through the Distribution Center to touch and change lives. The DC has so many functions and each part touches lives in different ways. The food distribution that happens here every Tuesday and Thursday is a lifeline for families who are struggling to get by. Those we serve often find themselves making difficult choices between utilities and food or gasoline and rent. We are so blessed to be able to help make some of those choices easier because we believe no one should go hungry. It never ceases to move me when I hear of those who find just as much comfort from the food they receive as the conversations and relationships they build while they are in line. 


“Our completion of programs, in which we are able to help support and celebrate those in their transition to housing, is such an encouragement to those who receive it as well as the staff who help facilitate it. However, I think my favorite and probably most unexpected part of our ministry is the relationships we get to build with volunteers. I would have never dreamed of the discipleship that happens here at the DC. We have the privilege to work alongside guests at the shelter, local church groups, folks serving community service, and faithful long time volunteers. God continues to move powerfully in those who work here as well as those who volunteer here and I am so blessed to get to experience and witness it every day.” 

As we reflect on the concept of freedom in our lives and the lives of those around us, we ask ourselves what we can do to help? How can we use the freedoms we enjoy to better serve those who don’t have the same basic freedoms we do, like shelter and food? 


We see you answering this question every day through your support, love, prayers, and donations of your time, energy and finances. Every day you come with us in our quest to love everyone in front of us, from our guests to our unsheltered neighbors, to members of our community who might have a roof over their head but are still deeply in need of help. With you, we continue to rise to meet the increasing and daily challenges in our community. Thank you for your faithful support, today and always!

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” - Galatians 5:13-14

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