El Pomar approves grant for local food bank hit by spike in requests | CraigDailyPress.com

El Pomar approves grant for local food bank hit by spike in requests

Collin Smith

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Interfaith Food Bank offers free food orders to residents in need of assistance. For more information, call board president Roxanna Webb at 824-8965.

Although the Interfaith Food Bank faced what members described as its worst crisis of funding and food this year, they knew they weren’t alone.

Members were joined by their faith.

However, the group learned Monday it also had support from earthly powers.

As part of the El Pomar Foundation’s $1 million Colorado Assistance Fund, the El Pomar Northwest Regional Council approved an unsolicited $7,500 grant to Interfaith earlier this month.

“God answered our prayers,” Interfaith board president Roxanna Webb said. “We’ve been praying for a long time, and we were blessed.”

The Northwest Regional Council – with members including Moffat County Commissioner Audrey Danner and state Sen. Al White, R-Hayden – approved funding Interfaith out of $20,000 given to Grand Junction-based Western Slope Food Bank of the Rockies.

Interfaith’s $7,500 is part of Western Food Bank’s allocation and must be spent with that organization.

Starlene Collins, manager of the Western Slope Food Bank, was on hand at a check delivery presentation Monday afternoon and told Interfaith volunteers that $7,500 will buy a lot of food before it runs out.

“We have national purchasing power, which means we can get a much better price for our food than you could buying it at the grocery store,” Collins said. “There’s no way I can see that you’d be able to spend it all in one go even if you really wanted to.”

The money came at a crucial time for Interfaith, said Claudean Talkington, the group’s treasurer and bookkeeper.

Through seven months this year, Interfaith has served as many food orders as it did in all of 2008, she said.

The group works by giving away free boxes of food with amounts and items determined by family size. Each person or family can make as many as three orders, after which they must get board approval before they can place another.

“We’ve been hit and hit hard,” Talkington said. “I didn’t realize, and maybe it is, but the economy in Craig may have gone way down.”

At the same time as the number of food orders has shot up, the amount of incoming food and financial donations has plummeted, she added.

“I’ve been here 20 years, and we’ve never had this problem – this kind of problem – before,” Talkington said.

Danner, who gave a brief presentation Monday as part of her role with the El Pomar Northwest Regional Council, said her organization has heard similar stories from nonprofits across the state.

El Pomar hopes that its Colorado Assistance Fund will help, she said. Officials intend to spend the program’s $1 million by Aug. 31 to help bolster emergency human services, such as food and shelter, as well as abuse prevention services for drug and domestic violence issues.

All of the program’s funds will be directed through local councils, such as the one Danner sits on for Northwest Colorado.

Xavior Robinson, El Pomar program associate, said the group has done everything it can to decentralize its decision making with the hope that local residents know more about what’s needed than the foundation’s board based in Colorado Springs.

This is the second $1 million cycle El Pomar has put forward in the wake of the country’s economic woes. The first was doled out in November 2008, and included a $5,000 allocation to Craig-based Love INC.

Interfaith members said residents should feel free to call about requesting services or offering donations. For more information about the group, call Webb at 824-8965.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com.

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