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A patron of the Sanpete Pantry loads some food offerings into her van.

 

Church’s donations allows for window

walkway to be added to Sanpete Pantry

 

By Rhett Wilkinson

Staff writer

9-17-2020

 

A grandmother took on five grandchildren as she and her husband were living on her husband’s social security check. Her son had lost his job.

Talking about her circumstances, “she was crying,” said Marty McCain, the Sanpete Pantry fundraising director.

The check isn’t covering the extra cost of the children, McCain said.

McCain said you hear that most folks are two paychecks away from being out of their home. You wonder if that is real, McCain said.

“It is now,” he said, saying he has needed help from time to time. “We’re seeing the … tip of the iceberg and we’re going to have the Titanic here if we don’t get prepared.”

The Titanic hit the iceberg because “the guy up on the tower didn’t have binoculars,” McCain said.

The pantry just received some much needed help, however. A donation from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is enabling a walkway and food donation window to be installed at the pantry.

The donation covers the cost of the walkway and window, Sanpete Pantry Executive Director Jeff Jarman said. While it’s not a “hard figure,” the project of putting in the walkway and window will be about $6,000, Jarman said.

“When I put in for the grant, I put in for that amount, $6,000,” Jarman said. “It’s not your typical way to go about a construction project, but we’re not a typical business.”

“I estimated it would be about $6,000 and that’s what we got,” Jarman said. “Sometimes we will get a [discount] because we’re a nonprofit … I’m anticipating that will happen, but I can’t count on it.”

“It sounds like I don’t know because I don’t know,” Jarman said. “We’re going to go one step at a time with it until the money’s gone.”

Though it depends on the speed of the contractors, the walkway and window should be completed at the end of the month, Jarman said.

Jarman said he got the blessing of the Sanpete County Commission for the project.

For “some time,” the pantry has wanted to put in a walkway, Jarman said, explaining that they wanted to have access to one part of the building from another. Calling the pantry building “a two-structure facility,” Jarman said that a wall separated pantry staff from a warehouse, creating some problems in the winter. Now, the walkway will allow folks to walk from one section of the pantry building to the area where food is kept.

Rather than the clients shopping for themselves, they will go up to the window, Jarman said. The window will be located near the front of the pantry.

And the church’s donation provided funds “that were necessary to open up the entryway between the facilities … and not expose our employees to COVID,” said Ken Krogue, chairman of the pantry board.

 

Survival

 

Jarman said the pantry would like to again be recognized as the county food bank, “not a food closet,” Jarman said.

“We’ve only had limited resources,” Jarman said. “It’s been difficult for us to manage what we need to do county-wide.

“Obviously, funding is a big issue,” Jarman said.

The pantry restructured after being run solely by volunteers. Now, it’s operating with employees, but that resulted in a cost increase. And that has created another problem, Jarman said.

“This is a partnership with Sanpete County,” Jarman said. “They own the building; release the building.”

Last year, the county commission did not fund the pantry. At least one member of the commission has reportedly said that folks in need should reach out to the church, though not everyone in the county is LDS. The pantry faced an end-of-year closure. Folks came to the pantry’s aid, including David and Lurlynn Potter, in becoming co-directors at the time, and it stayed afloat. David wrote software specifically for food banks. After the Potters took over, they finalized many new grants—including a Larry H. Miller grant. The 501(c)(3) fundraising arm of the pantry, Drive4Food, was also being revived. Drive4Food once accounted for raising nearly a quarter of the pantry’s whole yearly operating budget, but the departure of vital volunteers left it dead. Efforts from the Potters and Elizabeth Fackrell, a new pantry volunteer at the time, have helped bring it back and the fundraising events that accompanied it.

In 2018, the county commission reportedly appropriated $24,000 for the food bank. Then the food bank chairman at the time reportedly appeared before the commission. He reportedly said that the county should fund the pantry more.

 

About the pantry

 

The pantry has an experimental mobile food drop where clients can get food on the same day they register.

“So far, it’s working pretty good,” Krogue said.

The pantry has been moving “a lot of things” online and its Facebook presence has been expanding. Snow College has been working with the pantry to expand its website, Krogue said.

The first time a person comes to the pantry and needs food, they will get it before the pantry worries about qualifying them, Jarman said.

The pantry helps many folks. That includes those who must pay for a transmission yet need their car to get to work, McCain said. It includes “folks who have had a rough month,” Krogue said.

The pantry serves 40 percent of the county, Krogue said. “We’re the second-poorest county in the state, so we need to band together.”

 

Sanpete Pantry volunteer Bonnie Sheffield prepares a cartload of food for a recipient of the pantry’s offerings.