NEWS A Campbell County nonprofit food distribution program has received a grant to meet growing need

A Campbell County nonprofit food distribution program has received a grant to meet growing need

this Edible Prairie Project (EPP) is a nonprofit food distribution program that provides food to those in need in Campbell County while helping to support small and medium-sized food and agriprocessing businesses. They also work to increase the affordability and accessibility of high-quality, nutritious food for County residents.

Unlike traditional food pantries or social service providers who typically distribute from centralized facilities or sometimes door-to-door, EPP stocks non-perishable items in refurbished newsstands. Kind of like those free library stands popping up all over the country. There are currently seven pantries. They were at three parks, a church, the local Salvation Army and the Gillette Community Service Committee. An additional unit also serves Wright.

Launched in 2018, the EPP funds its operations primarily through individual donations. A recent $1,000 grant from Gillette Elks Lodge helps provide the boost needed during a time of record demand for services.

“It was a bit of a surprise to us,” EPP executive director Erin Galloway said of receiving the grant. “This will help keep our small free pantry stocked for the upcoming winter months. We do find that with inflation and rising grocery prices really becoming a burden for families, our small free pantry The pantry is being used more and we’re working towards that, we should be adding two new locations to our little pantry network here in the next few months so we can be in ji Column and Campbell counties have a larger distribution.”

Increased demand for food has EPP stocking its distribution pantry two to three times a week to keep up with demand, a sizable increase since this time last year. Because pantries are decentralized, EPP doesn’t know how many people or households are removing food, only how much they put in. But compared with more normal times, when the pantry only needs to be restocked about once a week, there is a marked increase in the steps being taken. Winter, and more specifically the holiday season, is a time of year when demand generally increases.

“Right now, we’re seeing a very, very high demand [rate]probably higher than we’ve ever seen,” Galloway said. “We [are] Keep stocking them two or three times a week and they get pretty empty between stockings so they are definitely being utilized and we are checking our pantry or our food purchases faster than we think. “

Currently, they plan to open two more redesigned newsstands in Gillette next month to expand their presence in the community.

“We do have more newspaper dispensers donated from Rapid City [South Dakota] The Journal and our local Gillette College welding class will actually do some repairs, like put a shelf for us which is really handy, and then we’ll have them painted,” she said.[The] The Boys and Girls Club had some to draw and we had a local artist draw some and the Girl Scouts drew one, so we reached out to other community folks and got them to decorate or paint and make them look good, and then they Go to the Gillette City Parks Department and they install them in the park. “

So far, the EPP’s finances have been able to pay for the amount of food needed to meet the growing demand. Instead of using any other pantry and food bank programs, they go online and try to order in bulk.

Some meals that have proven popular include mac and cheese and pancake mixes, which Galloway believes are easy to make with minimal ingredients. Along with more traditional favorites, protein bars, instant mashed potatoes, and soup mixes in place of canned soups are some of the items currently stocked in the pantry.

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