RIDGWAY – After being closed for several months, the Ouray County Food Pantry is reopening under a new 501(c)(3) arrangement and will open its doors again next Thursday, Sept. 26, at 257 Sherman Street in Ridgway, in the former location of Willow Creek Floral.
The Food Pantry was formerly located in Trail Town but had to shut down several months ago when the space it occupied for free was rented to a new occupant.
Members of the Food Pantry board hope that in the new space, where they will pay a small monthly rent, they will find stability for the organization, which formerly served 50 to 60 families per week by providing them with quality food to get them through tough times.
The stability comes at a price, albeit a modest one in the form of the steeply discounted rent. Community members and organizations have already stepped forward with enough donations to cover the rent for at least nine months. If pending grants come through, there will be money in the coffers to cover one and a half years’ worth of rent, said Food Pantry board member Brenda Hernandez.
Donations of cash and food are still needed, however, for the Food Pantry to be sustainable in the long run.
Cash donations can go toward rent, or food purchase.
“We can buy a lot of food in bulk from large food distributors for 10 cents on the dollar,” explained Food Pantry board member Joyce Withrow. “It’s an efficient way to stock up on necessities.”
The Food Pantry is also accepting food donations of all kinds, including fresh fruits and vegetables that don’t spoil easily. Garden produce is fine, as long as it is washed and packaged in family-sized portions.
Other food items that are particularly welcome include baking goods (small packages of flour, baking soda, baking powder, sugar, spices and seasonings), peanut butter, eggs, cheese, milk and meat, including wild game.
People who turn to the Food Pantry for help tend to be those who “sort of fall through the cracks,” Withrow said. “They don’t get much public assistance, but they are struggling. We see a lot of people who have a physical condition that makes it hard for them to work. Even if they do get money from the state, it’s not enough to really make a difference.”
Other clients include transients, elderly community members, and people working in low-wage jobs that are having a hard time making ends meet. People tend to rely more on the Food Pantry during the winter months, when jobs are scarce, Withrow said.
With its new tax designation and location, Withrow and her fellow board members are confident that the needed donations will come through to enable the newly reopened Food Pantry to meet the needs of the community.
“I’m sure people will rally again,” Withrow said. “There was great support the first couple of years. I know people care in this community.”
Food Pantry clients must provide proof that they reside in Ouray County. The Food Pantry will be open on Thursdays from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. starting Sept. 26.
Donations of food and money can be taken at this time, or donors can contact food pantry board members to have items picked up from their homes. There will also be drop boxes set up at several prominent locations in Ouray and Ridgway.
“There is something about making sure your fellow community members do not go hungry that speaks to peoples’ hearts,” Hernandez reflected. “Our community has made sure that no one has had to go hungry.”
For more information, contact Hernandez at 970/240-3215 or Withrow at 970/318-0176.
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