Community joins together to help those in need

Kohl Campbell, Zoe Girard and Alma Campbell did their part in the Community Pantry Food Drive in Nampa in 2021.

Emily Plihal
South Peace News

Nampa/Northern Sunrise County Family and Community Support Services has created a food collection program for community members to help other community members.
The Community Pantry Program is akin to other community’s food bank services, but three local offices simply provide bins and shelves to assist with collecting and dispersing non-perishable goods and garden vegetables, when available, to people in need.
“The Community Pantry is open to all residents of Northern Sunrise County and the Village of Nampa,” says director of community services Amber Houle. “There is no referral or application process. If someone needs food items to get by, they can call their local Nampa/Northern Sunrise County FCSS office to access the program, judgment free.”
Houle says they always accept donations, and the community has been great at ensuring food is continually going through the FCSS doors. The three FCSS locations are in Cadotte Lake, Nampa and St. Isidore.
“We are always looking for non-perishables for our program,” says Houle. “We typically run short on hygiene products, diapers, formula, and canned proteins.”
She says since the beginning of the pandemic, the offices have seen an influx of people needing to access the Community Pantry Program and seeking assistance accessing other programs and services to help meet their basic needs. There is no application process for the Community Program, making it easier for individuals or families to access at any time, not just if their income dictates their eligible.
“Regardless of if an individual or family has made a suitable income based on their past year’s taxes, they may now be going through divorce, loss of a job, death in the family, etc. that is impacting their ability to meet basic needs,” says Houle, adding they have an open-door program to anyone needing the food with no reason required.
“When individuals and families come in to access the Community Pantry, we can chat with them and provide additional levels of support by linking them to other services and programs offered by our agency.”
The Community Pantry often sees influxes of use around holiday seasons and when there are sharp increases in utility rates or gas prices.
“Recognizing that we all go through struggles in life, donations to our program help families move forward and get their feet back under them,” says Houle. “You never know what life will bring you and you may end up having to access a similar program to ensure that your family can thrive. By donating, you are helping those in need now, and possibly the future you.”
If you would like to donate non-perishable items or fresh garden vegetables to the program, please phone the FCSS general inquiries line at (780) 625-3287.
The program also gratefully accepts financial donations and gift cards to local grocery stores, as well as food donations, to help stock the shelves in the Community Pantry.

Rebekah Warkentin and Elizabeth Warkentin sort through food collected in the Nampa Public School’s Food Drive in 2019.

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