Filling the coffers

Food drive underway at Sundance State Bank, food pantries continue to see high use

By Sarah Pridgeon

Sundance State Bank is once again running its annual food drive in support of Crook County’s three food pantries. The bank will give $1 for every canned or boxed item and will also match any monetary donations, up to a total of $2500, says Jim Durfee, President.

Both types of donation are important, says Katy Daves, director. While having food available to distribute to members of the community in need is obviously crucial, monetary donations also help to keep the pantry running.20-web-ssbfooddrive-2

“The people in this county are unbelievably generous – the citizens, the school kids, Powder River Energy, the bank, the businesses, the youth service organizations, the churches, the school – everybody is always doing something to help,” says Daves.

“We have a really good pantry as far as our food goes and what we’re able to give people, but we also have operating costs. That’s why the monetary donations are important, too.”

Over the last two years, the three pantries have seen a significant increase in usage, according to Daves. Two years ago, 41 clients across the county were served during the month of April and 69 in May; this year, 161 people came to the pantries for help in March and 139 in April.

“We’re almost as busy in Moorcroft now as we are in Sundance, it’s really picked up. There was hardly anybody coming to that pantry when I started managing it and now it’s really busy,” Daves says.

“I think it had something to do with the layoffs at the coal mines, that’s when it started to grow.”

Daves believes the increase is due to a combination of need and awareness of what the pantries can provide. With such an uptick in need, donations are more important than ever.

At present, much of the food in stock at the pantries is bought from the Food Bank of the Rockies with the help of the PRECorp Foundation, which has put money on the account for the last two years. Monetary donations meanwhile go towards operating costs, such as the liability insurance needed for all three pantries.

“We also have fuel bills for the furnace in the basement, electricity and mileage and I buy milk and eggs. People get a gallon of milk at the first pantry of the month and a dozen eggs at each pantry,” Daves says, explaining that these are purchased from the local grocery stores.

“We have an office, so we have to have a certain amount of office supplies. It’s a charitable organization, but it’s still a business and we have to operate it.”

Both food and financial donations can be dropped off at Sundance State Bank. Monetary contributions will go into a dedicated account for the food pantry and distributed at the end of the drive along with the matching funds donated by the bank itself.