This is the full story from our County Highlight blog shared on Monday. Enjoy!
For 50 years, the citizens of Gunnison, Colorado have provided food assistance to their neighbors. Department of Health and Human Services’ Director Anne Steinbeck began stocking food in 1962 to tide folks over until their applications for food stamps were approved. When need and donations outgrew Anne’s office closet, Ruthie and Carl Long took over operations and moved the pantry to an office previously used by a dentist. Today, the Gunnison Country Food Pantry is tight on space, but has plenty of hand-washing basins!
Jeanette Klepinger took the Pantry to a new level by establishing a working board of 10 members and becoming the county’s administrator for The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP). In 2014, we served an average of 230 families, comprised of 364 adults and 192 children, each month. In 2013, a weekly Seniors’ Day was launched to help neighbors 65+ living on low, fixed incomes stretch their food budgets. Volunteers have created such a warm, welcoming atmosphere that the program serves an average of 60 seniors every month.
The generosity of the citizens of Gunnison County is amazing and heart-warming. Gifts of time, effort, food, and financial contributions pour into the Pantry. More than 150 volunteers worked over 6,200 hours in the past year to serve those in need by providing food assistance in a kind, confidential and supportive environment. Volunteers recognize that asking for temporary help is difficult and that those in need may be a neighbor or friend. Being a member of a strong, all-volunteer organization with a meaningful mission is a joy and a privilege.
In-kind gifts of food account for 44% of our 2015 budgeted income. The Pantry has little doubt that the Feeding America program, local vendors, community groups which sponsor regular food drives, and individuals with big hearts will meet the need. Holiday food drives stocked the shelves for winter. The Pantry’s annual fund drive concluded December 31st and added more than $28,000 to the Pantry’s resources to buy fresh produce, dairy and meat.
Photograph courtesy of Will Shoemaker, Gunnison Times
Thanks for reading!