To many, Gunnison Colorado is a stunningly beautiful mountain town that offers world class outdoor activities and great views. It can also be cold, isolating, and bleak if you are experiencing times of hardship or financial instability. While life in rural Colorado can be idyllic, the remoteness can also lead to a lack of resources and support systems for residents.
The Gunnison County Food Pantry is a small nonprofit operated by a few key staff and many volunteers who serve their community through countless hours of work and generous donations. The pantry seeks to serve those in need by providing food assistance in a kind, confidential and supportive environment. The pantry recognizes the difficulty in asking for temporary help, especially in a small town where individuals in need may be neighbors or friends. Carl and Ruthie Long started the food pantry out of their love for the people of the Gunnison Valley. As the new Executive Director Jeanette Klepinger said, “Carl and Ruthie Long gave six years of their lives to insuring that the food bank stayed open every week, all year long,” and Klepinger stated that she too wants to live her life in service to others. All citizens can access the food bank, and the organization never turns anyone away. “We assist everyone at their point of need because you can still have a business, a home, property and go through an unfortunate circumstance, such as illness, unemployment, divorce, disability and have no food,” says Klepinger.
The food bank, while small, is the difference between a child going to bed hungry and putting food on the table. One client commented, “I am waiting for food stamps, which may take a month to activate and the food pantry is helping me feed my family.”
In 2012, the food bank in Gunnison County served 1,937 people. Many businesses partner with the food bank to keep Gunnison County citizens from experiencing the pangs of hunger. Two local grocery stores, a natural food store, churches and endless individual donors provide food for the organization. In rural Colorado, it truly does take a village.
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