Southwest Diaries – Day 1

A group of dedicated DPCers headed out west again this year to help at the Food Pantry in Gallup, New Mexico. What follows are some first-hand accounts of their journey as it unfolds. Let’s follow along and send prayers together as they help those in need!

The following correspondence comes from Mission Committee Moderator Mary Lee Reiff:

What a joy to be back in the Pantry again and see both old friends and new ones!  The Fall 2019 trip was the last time we were able to be here.

It was amazing to see all the improvements the Pantry made with the help of Cares money, making their jobs a bit easier.  Those who have worked in the Pantry before will remember how difficult it was to open and close the huge manually-operated doors on the cooler and freezer … now awesome automated doors open with ease!  Other new equipment, including a fork lift and pallet jack are helping with the huge task the staff performs every day.

The team, masked and working with new COVID guidelines, got to work quickly and through the day bagged Sesame Street cinnamon letters cereal; packed beets of all sizes; packed cereal; bagged a variety of frozen meats and other protein items for the clients on Tuesday; packed cereal; watered the gardens; picked, washed, and sorted tomatoes; and packed cereal.

One task we stay with is packing cereal which goes in the Food for Kids bags.  Hilda said when she buys prepackaged cereal, she pays $46 for 96 individual servings.  When we bag the loose cereal which comes in a HUGE container, she can purchase 427 pounds for $38!  Obviously a huge cost savings which allows her to feed many more children.  The team is determined to finish the container they started … watch for the “photo finish”!

Three of the staff were gone much of the day delivering food boxes in Crownpoint.  Located about an hour away, this allows those with no transportation the ability to also receive the food boxes.  Delivering to distant locations was started during COVID to help people stay at home and keep them from coming in to Gallup.

Day 1 at the Pantry felt like a gift from God … we were so blessed to be back with the incredible staff who work so diligently each and every day to feed God’s people in need and take just a small bit of work off their plates.

Amy Edenson added her thoughts:

I woke at 7:30 ready to dive into the pantry work.  The ride to the warehouse wasn’t very long, but I took in the scenery the entire way.  The landscape is different, but intriguing. You kind-of feel like you’re on another planet.  So much rock and small shrubs with hills and larger mesas with varying gradations.  Trains are ever present piled two cargo containers high taking goods across the state.  So long, snaking around the rock formations and mesas.  In addition to trains, there are so many trucks on the roads.  This area seems to be a great transportation confluence.  

The community pantry exceeded my expectations.  It is large, modern, and sufficiently stocked to serve the needs of the people who need the help. The gardens were truly a wonder as small plots are producing everything from corn and tomatoes to watermelons and pumpkins.  The soil itself needs to be nurtured through the addition of on- site composting and organic donations from businesses.  

The work we participated in varied through the day.   I first made up small zip lock bags of cereal from a huge box of cereal.  I mean really huge, like maybe 5ft x 5ft x 5ft cube.  I then participated in bagging up donated beets and then bagging frozen foods in family portioned bags to be handed out the next day.  When 5:00 finally rolled around, I was HUNGRY! We were treated to a lovely meal which we ate at the pantry.  Luckily, because of Mary Lee, there was always some chocolate around during the day to give you an energy boost when you needed it! Great first day, looking forward to more rewarding work tomorrow.