Hope Market in Gardner to give away 100 Thanksgiving meals to families in need

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GARDNER, Kan. — For nearly a year, one local family has been working to help feed their neighbors. 

With the help of her husband and four children, Melissa Prins launched the Hope Market in December of 2020 after seeing more people becoming food insecure due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Twice a month the market opens at 132 Main Street in downtown Gardner to offer fresh produce, meat, bread and other pantry staples to anyone who needs help. 

Melissa’s daughter Rileigh works as a volunteer coordinator for the market. Rileigh is a senior at Gardner Edgerton High School and spends her time creating PSAs to bring awareness to student hunger. 

“You never know who can’t afford food and how paychecks may stretch in their family. Being able to be a member where I can hand out food to families and hand out food to familiar faces I see everyday is so rewarding,” Rileigh said. 

The Hope Market partners with Harvesters, Price Chopper and the Restoration Church to provide free food and hygiene products. On average, the market serves roughly 70 people each time it opens, and later this month the market will offer a special holiday gift for families in need.

On Saturday, Nov. 20 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. the Hope Market will be giving away 100 Thanksgiving baskets to families in the Gardner Edgerton School District. 

Thanksgiving baskets will include a turkey and groceries needed to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

Each basket includes a turkey, stuffing and other groceries needed to make a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, Prins said 

To help alleviate the stigma of food insecurity, The Hope Market does not have income or family size requirements to receive assistance. 

“We believe the greatest barrier to needing food is the shame they may feel coming in to get the food. We acknowledge that and we don’t require any other requirements,” Prins said. 

Currently, the market is based in a temporary location provided by the church. Prins said the goal is to move to a new facility in 2022. 

“We are mobile meaning everything is loaded up into a trailer each time we open and set up. Then we have to take it all down and take it back to our storage facility. While that is working for now, our options for growth are very limited in that model,” Prins said.

“What we would like to do is find a space where we can be set up to be open four or five days a week where clients can come in and have their own choice and shop just like if it were a Walmart or a Price Chopper.” 

Families interested in receiving a Thanksgiving basket can sign up through The Hope Market Facebook page

The Prins family is looking for volunteers to assist with the Thanksgiving giveaway event from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on Nov. 20. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact the Hope Market through Facebook. 

Donations for the Thanksgiving baskets can be dropped off at Keller Williams Diamond Partners Inc. at 526 E. Main Street in Garden or by calling or texting Melissa Prins at 801-358-0656. Monetary donations for the Thanksgiving baskets or general Hope Market services can be made on The Hope Market website.

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