Several years ago, with the closing of the Valley Market and Supply, an independent grocery store that served the Gila Valley for decades, the surrounding communities then were forced to drive more than 25 miles for groceries. In 2012, a grant from Roadrunner Food Bank to the Volunteer Center in Silver City became the initial funding for the first ever Gila Valley Mobile Food Pantry. The grant was specifically for 50 low-income senior households. Barrett and Sebert Brewer managed to corral a band of volunteers, and the monthly food distribution took off. Subsequent grants from Roadrunner, the Benwood Foundation, and Single Socks secured the viability of the Gila Valley Mobile Food Pantry. On the third Tuesday of every month, the Roadrunner semi pulls up and drops off 7,500 pounds of food that is then distributed to local families.
Sandy Riva, JoAnn Collins, and Joanne DeMichele had the foresight to move the distribution center from the Community Center in Gila, which had its limitations, to the Exhibition Building at the Grant County Fairgrounds. Mike Cuff and Commissioner Ron Hall were instrumental in making this move possible.
In January 2015, the Gila Valley Mobile Food Pantry opened a Special Projects Fund with the Grant County Community Foundation. This vehicle provides tax-exempt status and allows the pantry to receive cash donations for supplemental food. Donors will receive a receipt valid for their income taxes. While the Special Projects fund is specifically for additional food (virtually all donations go to the purchase of food), the Mobile Food Pantry could not operate without oversight, support, and advocacy from the Volunteer Center in Silver City. Single Socks has been a terrific partner, allowing the distribution to increase recipient numbers. The Benwood Foundation has also provided sustaining funds through the Grant County Community Foundation.
The Gila Food Pantry volunteers voted to expand the distribution to cover 90–100 households, and no longer limits the distribution to only seniors. Each household gets a primary box, a box of bread (sometimes 2) and a box of produce. Volunteers unload the truck, sort the shipment, and divide it into the boxes collected for that day's distribution. Some volunteers also qualify for boxes. Volunteer "Burros" carry the boxes to the recipients' vehicles. Typically, 30–40 Gila Valley volunteers participate. The dedicated community of Gila provides the energy and the heart that has and will sustain this project. We urge you to donate funds for the purchase of supplemental food that will enhance the quality of nutrition and increase the numbers of families we can help.
For more information please contact:
Sandra Riva: Sandra@DoveMeadow.com
Joanne DeMichele: firstname.lastname@example.org
Barrett Brewer: email@example.com
Mail Donations to:
Gila Valley Mobile Food Pantry
PO Box 87 / Gila, NM 88038 / Attn. Sandra Riva