Harvesters food distribution halted after neighborhood complains of traffic

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Some people in Western Wyandotte County are complaining that a Harvesters mobile food giveaway on Saturdays has been halted. They say the Unified Government is to blame.

The dispute over feeding the hungry is centered along Parallel Parkway.

For months people have been lining up in a church parking lot on two Saturdays a month to pick up fresh fruits, vegetables and other food that must be eaten right away.

But it's not going to happen Saturday as scheduled because the Unified Government says homeowners nearby have complained about traffic disruptions caused by lines of cars.

The Unified Government says it's illegal to disrupt traffic without a permit and appropriate signage. But organizers of the food giveaway say they have set up cones and worked with police since it started to ensure that traffic flows smoothly.

"I can tell you what the city wants," said Janic Witt, of the Civitan Family Life Center. "They want us to move this back to the other side of the railroad tracks. Hunger does not look like the other side of the railroad tracks. It looks like America. It looks like humanity. The people out here are hungry as well and they can't go downtown. They don't have the gas money to drive all the way downtown to get it."

Witt claims about 2,500 people a month receive groceries they need through the Harvesters truck deliveries. She doesn't want to move to the east, because she says it's the only drive-though food pantry currently set up in this part of Wyandotte County.

The city says 16,000 vehicles a day travel Parallel Parkway and believes a location less disruptive to traffic would be safer for everyone involved. Those who help give away the food say people will go hungry as a result.

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