2013 was a good year for the Community Pantry.
We distributed over 2.9 million pounds of food to the people of Cibola and McKinley County. This was accomplished through our network of 32 agencies, three feeding programs and our subsidiary pantry in Grants. Over 4000 families and approximately 15,000 people were the beneficiaries of these efforts.
We were able to add new schools to our Food for Kids program and are now serving all but one of the elementary schools in our bi-county area. Through the generosity of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of New Mexico, a matching grant from the Anderson Foundation and individual donations from our supporters, we were able to reinstitute a program for our senior citizens and are providing 336 boxes of staple items bi-monthly.
A refrigerated truck was purchased through a donation from the Horncrest Foundation in memory of Jim Harlin. this truck will allow us to transport perishables in smaller amounts and more economically than using our tractor-trailer rig. We will look at using this truck in the future to return to mobile food pantry services for some of our more remote locations.
The Hope Garden continues to grow (pun intended). Our sixth high-tunnel season extender is up and produced wonderful tomatoes over the season. The last tomato was served on 1 December.The experiment with no-till potatoes was a success and a learning experience. The no-till produced about 20% more potatoes than the tilled plots with less water usage. The community took advantage of the raised beds and many people grew their own vegetables this year. Hopefully more will do so next year.
Through the energies of several people, a Horticultural Therapy program was planned for the at-risk youth of CYFD and also for veterans in therapy through the work of Carol Frazier. T.A.O.S. has graciously offered the use of a greenhouse for the program, although it does need some repair and maintenance work.
The Farmers Market gave us the opportunity to sell some of our produce to the local community, promote local agriculture and increase awareness of the efforts being made by the staff and volunteers of The Community Pantry and Hope Garden.
New security lights and a new fire alarm system were installed through monies allocated through the state legislature. Grants received a new walk-in refrigerator, an updated electrical system and some plumbing repairs through in-kind donations from Cibola County which has improved the service in that area.
Two new employees were added this year: Vernon Garcia and Misty Lasiloo. Vern is split between the garden and the warehouse and Misty serves both the office and the service counter. Both of them are true assets.
Like any non-profit we could not function as well without our volunteers, We had almost 16,000 hours of volunteer labor given to the two pantries. This is equivalent to 7 and 3/4 full-time employees. Thanks to them all.
The Board of Directors at the December meeting elected their new officers for 2014. Dee Ann Leyba is the new President, Elena Bowers is the new Vice-President, Brent Bischoff is the returning Treasurer and Andy Urbina is the returning Secretary.
The staff went to a conference in Tucson, “Closing the Hunger Gap”, which was very beneficial. Food Banks from around the country participated. We made good contacts and received great information. It was a team-building event for us also.
As in life in general, we have to learn to take the bad with the good. Claresia Montoya retired at the end of December after serving 14 years with The Community Pantry. Claresia was the first employee of the pantry other than Jim. We miss her sorely but realize that she needed to spend more time with her husband and family.
In November we discovered that we had major problems with roof leakage. It was been repaired and now we are waiting for some moisture to see how effective the repairs are. Brings to mind the line about “you can’t repair it in the rainstorm and when it isn’t raining there isn’t a problem”. Hopefully the repairs that have been done will solve the problem. While the roof repair was being made, new skylights were installed that make the warehouse much lighter.
So what can you expect to see happening at The Community Pantry in 2014?
- Continuing repairs to protect the integrity of our food supply
- Implementation of the mobile pantry
- Start of a Farm Stand to sell produce during the off season
- Expansion of the Hope Garden into several different growing plots around the community
- Activation of the Horticultural Therapy program
- Replacement of the roof of the Grants Community Pantry
We thank you for your support throughout the last year and ask that you continue to consider us in your generosity for the year to come.
Photo credit: road