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Greeley County Food Pantry hosts open house, celebrates new building

A line of refrigerators and freezers line the back wall at the new Greeley County Food Pantry Facility, filled with meat, cheese, eggs, milk, and other perishable supplies. In the center of the building sits a shelf filled with canned and packaged food, neatly arranged and grouped for ease of use.  A garage door in the northeast corner of the building is closed, but when opened, allows for easy access for both unloading trucks and individuals to be able to pull in cases of bad weather.
For Kathleen Dowling, president of the Greeley County Food Pantry, the new Food Pantry building located at 202 W. Greeley in Tribune, is the realization of a decade-long dream to create a more workable, larger space for the pantry.
“Ten years ago, I knew that we needed a larger building,” she said. “The building was falling apart and needed repair or replacement. Replacing it made sense.”
The new space is more than double the size of the previous building, which was located at the same location the new pantry occupies. It allows room for access for those with walkers or wheelchairs and has room to expand to the south, should the need arise.
Funds to build the new facility came from community donations, including fundraising letters to property owners in the county. The Food Pantry’s last donation drive helped bring the project to fruition, making the dream a reality. One benefactor has been especially gracious with contributions and Kathleen and the other members of the Food Pantry board are grateful for the support.
“Once I knew it was going forward, I have been in seventh heaven,” said Dowling. “I knew then that we could support the people in our community so much better by doing this. It’s a relief not to worry how do I get the food in here, how I get someone with a wheelchair or a walker in? I just feel so blessed.”
In addition to Dowling, board members include Dale Wetzel, vice-president; Rhonda Moritz, secretary/treasurer; Connie Rupp, volunteer coordinator, and Yudith Yanez.  
A grant through the Food Bank in Wichita provided a new commercial refrigerator for the space and the Food Pantry board purchased a commercial freezer to go with it. Both are expected to have a longer lifespan than traditional residential models.
Supplies for the Greeley County Food Pantry come primarily from two sources:the Food Bank of Wichita and Gooch’s Foods. Donations are always welcome. Those unsure of what might be most needed are encouraged to give monetary donations, which allow the Food Pantry Board to stock what’s most needed.
Through CHS-United Plains Ag, donations are made through the Food Bank in Wichita, to have funds to spend there. These funds, through the Harvest For Hunger program, also help support the school’s backpack and summer feeding programs, as well as the Bob Boxes, a program run by the Greeley County Health Department to provide food to seniors who do not utilize the Greeley County Food Pantry.
Last week, the Pantry was a place of bustling activity. Tuesday, a truck arrived from the Food Bank in Wichita, delivering supplies.  Wednesday morning, it was open to provide food to those who need it, and Wednesday night, community members stopped in to see the new space and to visit with board members at an Open House. Thursday, community volunteers were invited share in the bounty of a generous donation of pork loins from Seaboard Foods.  
Kathleen shared her thanks with a variety of people who helped along the way: Unified Greeley County employees for tearing down the previous structure, Wayne Dowling for the work he did on the project throughout the building phase, Winston White for doing the landscaping and concrete work, Seaboard Foods for their recent contributions, and others, too, for supporting the pantry’s work and mission.
“We would like to thank the community for their support,” said Dowling. “Every person in this community has helped support the food pantry over the years and we’re here to support them as well.”
Anyone in need of food is encouraged to visit the Pantry, which is open each Wednesday. The first, third, and fifth Wednesdays of the month, the Pantry is open from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.  The second and fourth Wednesdays, it is open from 5 p.m. -7 p.m.
The Greeley County Food Pantry is a 501c3 non-profit organization and donations are tax-deductible. 

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