Daniel and Melissa Stuchlik of rural Pilsen have been purchasing food packages through the Prairie Land Food program for two years.
Prairie Land Food is a 501(c) 3 nonprofit agency that rewards volunteerism with monthly offerings of fresh frozen meat and fresh fruits and vegetables at a reduced cost.
Melissa Stuchlik teaches religion classes at her church and is involved in the altar society.
She said the food she receives through Prairieland Food is excellent.
“My kids are kind of picky eaters, but they like it all,” she said. “You get items you wouldn’t normally buy, so you get to try new things.”
Regular “prairie paks” contain five or six meat items and a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, usually for $20 plus a $3 transportation fee. It also is possible to purchase just a meat package or a vegetable package.
Holiday menus also are available at special times such as Thanksgiving and Christmas at an additional cost.
Stuchlik and her two children, Tanner, 6, and Allie, 5, picked up the family’s November purchase on the 20th at the Hillsboro fairgrounds.
After paying for it and notating her gratis work for the month, Stuchlik collected items from an assembly-line setup of bulk food, placing the items in a large cooler.
The prairie pak included frozen packages of pork sausage, chicken drumsticks, pork chops, cheese ravioli with meat sauce, and meatballs. Fruits and vegetables included sweet potatoes, onions, potatoes, celery, oranges, pears, and apples. A pumpkin pie also was included.
“I especially like the apples,” Tanner said. “I want one right now.”
“I’ve been extremely happy with the quality of the food,” Jeanna Rivir of Canton said. “It is 99 percent fresh food.”
The single mother of two children manages a household of five people and has been buying Prairie Land Food packages for at least three years.
She said she fulfills volunteer requirements by doing such things as volunteering at her daughter’s school, transporting friends, doing things in the community, and caring for friends’ children.
“These are just ordinary things that people do every day,” she noted.
June Glasgow, who administers the Prairie Land Food program in a large part of Kansas and Oklahoma, says that everyone is a volunteer whether or not they know it. Anything done for someone else or the community without pay is voluntary and qualifies a person to participate in Prairie Land Food.
“Because you are doing something nice for somebody, you get to save some money,” she said.
The program is supported solely by participants and is made possible through arrangements with food brokers for bulk purchases.
Rivir said she purchases two food packs every month. She likes to volunteer on delivery days, helping unload and distribute food items.
More than 40 Hillsboro households purchased a November pack. People from surrounding communities came to pick up orders to deliver to others in their communities.
Max and Paula Morgan of Ramona have been purchasing Prairie Land Food packs for two years. They picked up seven orders. Ruth Ogle of Florence also picked up seven orders.
Louie and Ruth Coyle of Lehigh picked up five orders.
“The program works really well,” Louie said.
Andrea Klenda of Pilsen was purchasing a prairie pak for the first time. She said she was trying it out to see if she would continue with the program. She and her husband, Dale, have two small sons.
The bulk food was delivered via semi. The truck driver said he had made deliveries at 10 locations throughout south central Kansas beginning at Wellington. Hillsboro was his last stop.
Many of the people who picked up food submitted orders for a December delivery on the 18th.
The December menu is available online at www.prairielandfood.com. Orders may be placed online until Dec. 8 or by contacting Glasgow by phone at 1 (800) 998-9436 or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.