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Marion native helps feed thousands

Staff writer

Debi Kreutzman is one of 20 full-time employees at Kansas Food Bank in Wichita. She is community relations manager and program director.

She is a half-sister to Gene Winkler and, just like her brother, has devoted her life to service to others.

Kreutzman grew up in Marion, graduating from high school in 1982. She attended Emporia State University with plans to become a teacher but discovered that wasn’t what she wanted to do.

She moved to Wichita after college and worked for a family physician and a hospice service before joining Positive Directions, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preventing HIV transmission.

It was while she was at Positive Directions that she first became involved with food distribution. She started a food pantry there in 1999 and remained there for 10 years before taking an opening at Kansas Food Bank.

“Instead of helping to feed 100 people, I could help feed thousands,” she said.

During the first year, she was agency relations manager and traveled a wide area, visiting food pantries, food kitchens, and shelters. KFB has connections to food banks in all 85 counties in its area, which covers all but northeast Kansas.

Kreutzman has been community relations manager and program director since 2010. She has established several food programs including summer and weekend programs for children.

More recently, after a generous donation from former senator Bob Dole, she helped establish a commodity program for seniors on limited incomes. Called Bob Box, seniors sign up for it, and once a month, boxes of food are delivered to community food banks for pickup, including Marion County Resource Center and Food Bank in Marion.

“We are serving 25 seniors in Marion, County,” Kreutzman said. “The food is in addition to other commodities available to them.”

Kreutzman said she loves her job.

“The thing I like most is being able to help people on so many levels,” she said. “I love going out in local food trucks, meeting people, and hearing their stories. It’s humbling and inspiring.”

Kansas Food Bank is a private, non-profit organization that receives no federal money and relies on donations. Kreutzman said her college English education has helped her write grants.

The food bank is in the middle of a $5 million expansion that will allow more room for storage and processing, where food that arrives in bulk is separated into family-size bags.

Kreutzman said more than 5,000 volunteers spend time processing food at the food bank every year, as individuals or members of a group.

She sees her work as one small contribution toward a larger end.

“Our goal is to provide basic needs,” she said. “I’m a little piece of a big puzzle. I love what I do. It’s so rewarding. I love coming to work every day.”

Last modified Sept. 27, 2018

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