A grassroots, community effort that recently bolstered the just as it was running dangerously low on supplies started out as a scheduled motorcycle ride among friends who thought they could "pass the hat" afterward to help the cause. But when the men asked themselves if they could and should do more to help the pantry, the resulting offshoot was a held July 23 at St. Mark's Church in Eureka.
The gathering was hosted by three area churches and a community leader organization: , Eureka United Methodist Church, and Knights of Columbus. church congregants also contributed toward the cause.
Funds4Food organizers provided Eureka Food Pantry's volunteer director Audrey Bell with an official check presentation Tuesday evening for the amount of $5,336. Representative Eureka community leaders for the check presentation included Jeff Bredahl, Wes Sir, Keith Marsh, Rod Martinson, Mike McCartney, John Chosay and Gary Thurman.
Having enough food to eat often is taken for granted by most Americans. But with so many people affected by the fluctuating economy these days, securing food is a priority for more and more families.
Bell said she already spent $2,500 of the donated Funds4Food money on staple items, such as fruit, jelly, canned chicken and dumplings, spaghetti sauce and stew. She said the pantry was completely out of canned chicken, Spam and certain canned vegetables, prior to the gracious Funds4Food donation.
"To give a better idea of the significance of contribution that these new funds provided, the $2,500 of items was three mini-van fulls' worth," said Bell.
A bonus resulting from the event was the group donated the extra meat not cooked and served that day, including hamburgers, brats and hotdogs. Bell said the meat immediately was distributed to pantry recipients during the past week.
Bell said their largest annual food donation period typically occurs in the fall, so they worry about their supplies every mid-summer. They receive donated items from the Reality House program hosted by Central Baptist Church in Eureka, as well as the annual Boy Scout canned food drive and the Girl Scout April Showers drive. They also receive some of the canned goods collected during annual food drive.
The pantry's hours of operation and setup previously were reported in Eureka-Wildwood Patch: .
Bell said 29 families were assisted on the first day of August. She said with an average of six people per family, one can begin to understand how many people the pantry does help.
Some local church congregations have assisted the pantry's need for supplies throughout the year by committing to providing 100 items each per month. Bell said that steady supply has gone a long way toward enabling the pantry to better help those who need food at critical times.
"Five years ago, we always ran out of food by mid-June," said Bell. "But our community rallied and made sure to help others."
Bell said 100 percent of donated finances and items go to those who need food. "We are completely run by volunteers, the Eureka Methodist Church pays for the electricity for our freezer and gives us a permament place to be, and we do not maintain any vehicles or equipment.
"Out of all the nonprofit efforts I've ever been involved with, the Eureka Food Pantry is certainly the purest. Everything that is provided goes straight into people's mouths."
Mike McCartney said the Eureka United Methodist Church also offers free meals once a month to patrons of the pantry. "This isn't just a Christian organization, we are people helping people."
John Chosay said they as organizers were doubly blessed in that they made new friends by working together.
The group already set June 23, 2012, as their targeted date for the second annual benefit event.