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Shelk Foundation pledges $8,000 to match donations in a fund drive for the organization's food pantry

RAMONA MCCALLISTER - Charlie Kurtz stands in front of the dry and canned foods in their new food pantry in the self-serving facility on Elm Street.

Prineville's food pantry has reopened at its new location next to Lutheran Community Services on Elm Street.

The new location is fitting their current business model, according to Charlie Kurtz, President of the Prineville Conference St. Vincent de Paul Society of Crook County.

"At our old location on Court Street, we basically didn't have enough income to support our program," said Kurtz. "We were relying on recycled clothing, ecetera, to support us."

He indicated that the price that they received for clothing and shoes per pound dropped dramatically. They couldn't pay salary, so two years ago they had to close and reorganize. They have cut costs and now they do not have any employees on the payroll. All their labor is volunteer.

St. Vincent de Paul of Crook County was formed in 1977 by John Solitz. For more than 40 years, the organization has provided Crook County with supplemental food for poor and needy residents. Their mission is to provide food and other means of assistance to Crook County's poor and disadvantaged neighbors. They operate a USDA-approved food pantry in a self-serve shopping facility.

The current organization is a qualified nonprofit, and has more than 30 volunteers. They serve approximately 700 recurring clients, and give more than 12,500 pounds of food per month. Their operating costs are $4,000 per month, with private donations and a number of grants supporting the food bank.

The new St. Vincent Food Pantry is located on 1301 NE Elm Street, suite 140—between Main and Elm Streets. The food pantry is open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Social services are available at any time.

Recently, the John and Linda Shelk Foundation pledged $8,000 to match donations to St. Vincent de Paul of Crook County in a 2019 fund drive. The foundation will match all 2019 donations until the goal of $8,000 is reached.

"I believe in St. Vincent de Paul and their mission and the dedication of their volunteers," said John Shelk of the Shelk Foundation. "Its always been my belief that this sort of philanthropy and this sort of giving is particularly appropriate within a faith-based organization. We are very supportive of St. Vincent de Paul and the mission that they undertake."

Every dollar contributed during this campaign will be doubled.

Other grant foundations that contribute to the Crook County SVDPCC include Oregon Food Bank, Joseph Weston Foundation, DeLeone, Autzen, St. Charles Foundation Safety Net Grant, and St. Vincent de Paul Society of Bend. Several organizations and businesses also contribute food, including Trader Joe's in Bend.

The biggest cost is currently the rental space for their pantry at Lutheran Community Services. Kurtz emphasized the importance of this service to the community.

"It's very significant."

He added that 49 percent of their guests are on Social Security, supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance.

"I interviewed a woman yesterday who supports a family of two on $900 per month from Social Security Disability Insurance income and $16 per month from food stamp benefit," Kurtz pointed out.

"Half of our clientele are in that boat. One fourth of our clientele are homeless. In Crook County ,13 percent live below the poverty level."

He added that 36 percent of their guests are homeless, 27 percent own a home and 37 percent are renting, while 25 percent qualify for food stamps.

"We are an integral part of trying to keep people fed and in their homes," added Kurtz.

They have a collaborative program they are establishing with 10 churches in town.

"We will be mailing out a letter shortly, inviting all churches to participate," said Kurtz. "We have become a single point of reference for everyone. The churches can send everyone to us. The churches, in turn, support our social services program."

They also provide rental assistance, utility assistance, and emergency housing. He noted that they recently purchased some tents and sleeping bags for the homeless population. With current rental costs, many of those under the poverty line are unable to afford rent or a house.

"We are very thankful for John Shelk and his wife to step up and give us this publicity, and to also give us an impitis to go to people and say, 'you can double your donation.' Our donations are a lifeblood, without money, we won't exist. We really appreciate this," concluded Kurtz.

Sidebar

The St. Vincent Food Pantry is located on 1301 NE Elm Street, suite 140—between Main and Elm Streets.

The food pantry is open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Social services available at any time. Call 541-447-7662 for an appointment.

Volunteer coordinator—Kathy Thompson

2019 goal is to get 1 percent of Crook County's 23,400 residents (234 individuals) to commit monthly contributions to SVDPCC.

During 2019, the John and Linda Shelk Foundation will match every dollar donated, until they reach the $8,000 goal.


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