Lack of Community Support Puts Strain on Food Pantry Services

PAGE – Pat Jensen says the Circle of Page’s Food Pantry and Healthy Meals Kitchen are in dire need of volunteers to continue operation. And without volunteers, both programs will be forced to close.

“Without them, we may be forced to close the programs,” said Pat Jensen, a board member for the nonprofit Circle of Page. 

“Both programs, which operate out of St. David’s Episcopal Church (Aqua and Lake Powell Boulevard) are volunteer-operated,” Jensen said. “Right now, at the Food Pantry, we have a great group of committed volunteers who staff our Tuesday afternoon (4–6 p.m.) and Thursday morning (10 a.m. – noon) distributions.”

To get ready for distribution, it requires volunteers almost every day of the week, said Jensen.

“For example, Walmart and Safeway participate in the national Food Rescue (US) program, providing food stuffs for our clients. But the Food Pantry must pick up the donations,” Jensen explained. “We have found wonderful volunteers for the Safeway pick-up, Monday through Thursday. And Doug Gardner from Page Lumber has graciously loaned his truck and staff to pick up the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday donations from Walmart for more than a year now. Without his help, we might have lost this valuable food source.” 

Healthy Meals serves a hot meal every Monday and Wednesday afternoon from 3 to 5 p.m.

Healthy Meals Coordinator Cathy Steffen said volunteers prepare food, serve, and then clean up.

On average, the program serves more than 1,000 meals monthly, according to Steffen, adding that Healthy Meals has only three regular volunteers.

“Others stay only an hour, or only (volunteer for a) day,” she said. “The regular volunteers are burning out, and if anyone gets sick or goes on vacation, it makes it very hard to get the meals out.”

Recently, 196 meals were served with the help of only three volunteers.  

“With enough dedicated volunteers we can get the jobs done, and lighten the load for all our volunteers,” said Food Pantry Coordinator Mary Siebert. “If we can get community members to give us two to three hours per week, it would make it easier for everyone.”

Siebert and Steffen said they have prioritized the volunteer needs as follows:

For Healthy Meals contact Cathy Steffen at 928-660-0288.

  • For Meal Preparation (Noon to 1 p.m.). Four new volunteers (two on Mondays and two on Wednesdays) are needed.
  • Serving and cleaning up (2:30 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.). Four new volunteers (two on Monday and two on Wednesdays) are needed.

For Food Pantry contact Mary Siebert at 928-645-9533.

  • Volunteers will unload St. Mary’s truck deliveries (first, third, and fourth Monday of every month from 10 a.m.-noon). Three volunteers who can lift at least 50 lbs. are needed.
  • Walmart Food Rescue program (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10:30-11:30 a.m.). Three to five volunteers who have an open bed truck are needed, and are able to lift and maneuver at least 50 lbs. 
  • Back room (freezer and cooler) distribution assistance (Tuesday from 3 to 6 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon). Two to three volunteers who can lift at least 25 lbs. are needed.

“If all you could do is lift an empty box, we have a volunteer opportunity and a need for you,” Jensen added. “Please give us a call or stop by St. David’s during the programs’ open hours.”