Sharing food with all of Craig
Eight years ago, Karen Gibson was excited on her drive back to Craig after visiting a SHARE host site in Rifle.
She was planning to start the SHARE program in Craig.
Today, the SHARE program she started in Craig has evolved into a full-scale operation in Northwest Colorado.
"We have evolved over the years from 14 orders and three volunteers sorting the first order to something a lot of the community knows about," she said. "It's done pretty well for being a small grass-roots effort."
On its Web site, www.sharecolorado.com, the stated goal of SHARE is "to help families save about 50 percent on their groceries, while encouraging the building of relationships with their neighbors in the community. There are no qualifications ... if you eat, you qualify."
Gibson, who is the pastor at Community United Methodist Church in Oak Creek, said locally there is sometimes a misnomer that people have to qualify financially to participate in SHARE, but as the Web site states, the only qualification is that a person eats.
To help build relationships in the community, SHARE participants are encouraged to volunteer with the program for two hours a month. Volunteering can be done during the distribution time or sharing part of the meals is also considered a service.
"In the time we've had it, I'm most proud of the community involvement," she said. "The community spirit and the way the churches have cooperated in an ecumenical way is how the program was designed."
The SHARE Colorado program started in 1989, joining the national SHARE program that started in California in 1983. The way it works is that SHARE sends out a newspaper every month listing a menu of food available. The food is available in packages, usually $20 to $25 or as individual items.
A participant must register and pay for their food by a certain day at the beginning of the month. In Craig, it's on Wednesday this month. At the end of the month, this time Sept. 23, the food is distributed.
In the last couple of years, SHARE Craig has been able to obtain a truck and a lap-top computer for the program. Those two items are part of the "evolution" of the program.
"We are more organized now," Gibson said. "That helps when you have 15 to 20 volunteers and meals for several communities to organize."
Every day before the distribution day, a driver goes down to Grand Junction to pick up the food for the four distribution sites in Northwest Colorado (Rangely, Meeker, Oak Creek and Craig). Trucks from the warehouse in Denver bring the final shipments of the food to Grand Junction and it is picked up early in the morning.
The food is purchased from a national affiliate network at low prices and, because the organization is non-profit and mostly run by volunteers, the costs are kept low.