Mancos FoodShare co-directors (l to r) Nicole Halladay, Gretchen Groenke and Stephanie Marquez stand with Marquez’s son Emmett outside the Mt. Lookout Grange before a busy food pantry distribution day.
Mancos FoodShare, started in 2013 by community members to bring a monthly USDA Commodities distribution to Mancos, was named Mancos Valley Resources’ Project of the Year.
“While difficult to single out one project from our outstanding educational, cultural and environmental programs, Mancos FoodShare really stepped up this past year, distributing over 64 thousand pounds of food in our community,” said Kimberly Campbell, MVR President at the annual meeting on February 16th.
Mancos FoodShare has grown exponentially since then from a volunteer crew to three part-time co-directors who are responsible for a weekly food pantry, a Bulk Buying Club, cooking and gardening classes, and a monthly pet food bank. SeedShare, spearheaded by co-director Stephanie Marquez, encourages local community members to grow their own food with seeds donated by local farmers.
The food pantry, located at Mt. Lookout Grange, provides free staples every Monday which include a green veggie or fruit, cereal, protein like beans, meat, and additionally school snacks for families.
“During the summer we do produce bags from all the produce we order. We try to give all healthy food, no sugar and we stick with local farmers,” said co-director Nicole Halladay.
In 2020, FoodShare served 5,486 individuals through commodity food boxes and the weekly food pantry. Families participated in cooking classes and an 8-week summer lunch program as well. Over 6,500 pounds of local produce and 1,000 pounds of local meat was received and distributed.
“Well, I wouldn’t be eating if FoodShare wasn’t there,” said a local resident in line for her weekly pantry pick-up. “I was getting commodities then they added the Food Pantry which has been fantastic. I have my daughter and her two kids living with me, I can’t tell you how much this had helped us out. The ladies here are sweethearts.”
A new trailer located outside of the Grange allows local farmers to donate their produce or other food distribution sites to load it with extra rations broadening their reach.
“This year we’ve shared food across the region,” co-director Gretchen Groenke said. “We’ve seen a lot more people and new folks in town but we’ve also been able to move food across the region.”
Mancos FoodShare is funded through grants and individual donations throughout the community. Soup, cereal and snacks are always needed and appreciated.
“Donations have been huge this year, “Groenke said. “It saves us a lot of time and work when we don’t have to write grants and grants are very specifically budgeted out. With donations, we can do what we have to do and it’s been very helpful this year especially because we’ve been able to be very flexible.”