Eagle Food Pantry needs volunteers | VailDaily.com

Eagle Food Pantry needs volunteers

Derek Franz
Eagle correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE, Colorado – Sometimes the need is for one thing, then another. It’s an ongoing cycle but there is always need, especially during an economic depression.

Right now, what the Eagle Food Pantry needs most is volunteers, said Tina Russ, one of the nonprofit program’s organizers. Of course, the Food Pantry can always use donations of food and money, too.

“It seemed like when we opened, we needed food. Now, it’s volunteers. It seems to go in cycles,” Russ said.

The Food Pantry, located in the basement of the United Methodist Church on 333 Second Street in Eagle, reopened about two years ago.

“Pastor Sid (Spain) decided it was time to get this going again,” Russ said. “The economy crash has not been discriminatory. We have everyone from trailer parks to Eagle Ranch come in.”

The job started with a rush Tuesday morning, with people lined up outside the doors of the church before the Food Pantry opened. There to help were Russ and 14-year-olds Maggie Gilman and Madeline Lounsberry, little Annie Barton, 1 1/2, and her mom, Meghan Barton, and grandma, L.D. Alderson.

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“There are three generations here!” Alderson said as she doled out items. Annie watched with wide eyes.

“She’s the greeter,” said her mom with a smile. “Teach ’em to volunteer early.”

The Food Pantry operates Monday evenings from 6 to 8 p.m., and Tuesdays and/or Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The volunteers usually split the time into two-hour shifts.

“We don’t want them to burn out – we want them to come back,” joked Alderson.

Volunteers there open boxes, stock shelves, serve clients, distribute food bags and load carts. Some light lifting is involved and there are some general cleanup duties. No experience is necessary to volunteer, though.

“Anyone who has a heart to help is welcome,” Russ said, adding that there are some non-church-going volunteers at the Food Pantry in addition to others who attend different churches. “This is a community service project,” she said.

Spain said the Food Pantry had its biggest day since its reopening just a few days ago, distributing 49 bags of food in a matter of hours.

Alderson, said a household of four people or less is eligible for one bag. Five or more qualifies for two bags.

Volunteers take copies of an identification card, such as a driver’s license, for each person who picks up food. Volunteers also have that person write the names of his or her household members. That process helps keep track of who is using the program and where.

“The food we distribute here is supplemental, like pasta, pasta sauce, canned and boxed foods, peanut butter, those kinds of things,” Russ said. “Sometimes things like milk and eggs and meats are donated, but mostly it’s just supplemental stuff.”

Russ said in addition to Food Bank of the Rockies, City Market gives a lot of help as well. The local grocery store branch donates bread regularly and frozen meats as they are available, which is usually after a holiday.

Other times, Food Pantry volunteers go out and buy stock using donated funds from Salvation Army and the Eagle County court system. The latter is generated from court-imposed fines.