Rachel Casey (1)
New CAC Executive Director Rachel Casey has extended the pantry’s hours.

Gala Helps CAC Extend Pantry Hours

By Kathy Feist

As the Community Assistance Council’s annual gala Caring About Community approaches, its new executive director Rachel Casey took a break from her busy schedule to give the Telegraph a look at what’s happening at the local food pantry.

“We have a huge opportunity in front of us,” she says. “Our service area includes a population of 85,000 people. While a lot of that population doesn’t need our services, it’s still a large piece of geography.”

Tickets are still available for the annual Caring About Community Gala to raise funds for the Community Assistance Council on Friday, October 19, at More Hall at St. Thomas More Parish, 11822 Holmes Rd. The event begins with a 5:30 p.m. social hour and silent auction followed by dinner and the program at 6:30. Tickets for the Gala are $50 and can be ordered at www.cackc.org/2018cacgala.

The CAC, 10901 Blue  Ridge Blvd., is the only social service agency based in south Kansas City.  CAC provides an on-site clothes closet and food pantry for needy residents, including gluten-free and allergy-friendly food products, and has a satellite food pantry at First Baptist Church of Kansas City at 100 W. Red Bridge Rd. It also provides financial assistance for rent, utility and medical expenses and case management for clients.

Casey says the area they cover includes Hickman Mills, the Center School District and part of south Kansas City. Their coverage includes 6,000 households that make $25,000 or less a year.

“That tells us there is much more we could be doing,” she says.

One of the first changes Casey made to meet the challenge was to expand the food pantry’s hours to include weeknights and Saturdays. But with that expansion comes a need for more volunteer help, more food and dry good donations and funding to cover the utility and operation costs.

Casey is excited about a new program that encourages businesses to have a friendly competition with food bin donations. She says this week she is taking 14 food bins to St. Joseph Medical Center where staff will compete in seeing who fills a bin up the most. “The winners will benefit from some in-house recognition, but CAC benefits from the donations.”

Another way to help is by attending the CAC’s Caring About Community Annual Gala on Oct. 19 at St. Thomas More Hall, 11822 Holmes Rd. The event starts at 5:30 with a silent auction followed by dinner and guest speaker. This year that speaker is former city councilman Troy Nash, who was raised by a single mother on welfare.

Tickets for the event are $50 and can be purchased through their website at cackc.org.