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Inside look at the Gunnison Food Pantry with Jodi Payne on the Koolers Lifestyle Podcast – Ep 22

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00:00:00 Jodi Payne
Something that came out of that report is something called the self-sufficiency standard. So here is federal poverty level, right? And here’s the self-sufficiency standard. And there are a lot of folks caught in between. So this is the self-sufficiency standard is the income you need to make to live comfortably in Gunnison or your community. And the federal poverty level is what the government says I will give you snap for. I’ll give you housing assistance for. And we have this gap between. Those two sort of standards and the pantry is really trying to help the folks who are in between. They don’t qualify for federal assistance, but they are not making enough money to meet their needs in Gunnison.

00:00:45 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Welcome to the Cooler Lifestyle podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn, and I’m excited to have you join me as I interview community members and business leaders from the communities in which I live, work, and serve through my business cooler garage doors, we’re going to bring you highlights on characters. In our communities. Why? Because Community matters, and I want to know more about who is behind our business and leadership in order to understand and support the Community fabric that our relationships make up. And collectively, we can build stronger communities that support our lifestyles, our youth, and our health. Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the Cooler Lifestyle Podcast. I’m your host, Matt Kuehlhorn. And today I have Jodi Payne, who’s the executive director of the Gunnison Country Food Pantry. Jody, thanks for so much for joining.

00:01:40 Jodi Payne
Well, thank you, Matt. I’m excited to be.

00:01:41 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Here. Yeah, I understand you’re at our Home Office.

00:01:46 Jodi Payne
Yes, I live in a a little rental in Gunnison and I have a guest bedroom slash office and it’s bright yellow, which is my favorite color. So it’s great for working, yeah.

00:01:56 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Perfect. Jody, where did you grow up?

00:02:01 Jodi Payne
So I’m originally from a small rural community, kind of like Gunnison, but arguably smaller. We didn’t have a stoplight. We didn’t have a grocery store right on. I grew up in the thumb region of Michigan, and I I. When I was a kid, I hated it. I didn’t have access to Internet. We sent it to do any of the things that I learned when I went to college at normal, children got to do because they were so kind of remote. But it really set me up for success in living in Gunnison, right? I think that I was well prepared.

00:02:37 Matthew Kuehlhorn
So the thumb part of Michigan, like, I’ve got my thumb here, right? I grew up. I grew up here.

00:02:43 Jodi Payne

00:02:43 Matthew Kuehlhorn
You grew up over here, Detroit?

00:02:46 Jodi Payne
Yeah, here in this region.

00:02:47 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah. OK, so this part’s rural, huh? It gets.

00:02:50 Jodi Payne
Pretty thin. Very.

00:02:52 Matthew Kuehlhorn

00:02:53 Jodi Payne
Yeah, very rural.

00:02:54 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, right on. How did? You end up out in Gunnison.

00:03:00 Jodi Payne
I the concise story is a kind of an accident. I moved here in June of 2020 and I was in the middle of graduating from grad school right as the pandemic hit and was you know, in five or six different application processes that as soon as March happened they stopped. Folks went on hiring freezes. But one of the schools that I was interviewing with those Western Colorado University as a resident director there and they were of two. Organizations that I was still interested in that hadn’t closed their hiring process down during COVID. And so honestly, I I moved to Gunnison without very much research. It was the only place at that time that was hiring me and I I didn’t even know it was a desert. If I’m being honest. I feel like I kind of arrived here really backwards. I think a lot of people like want to come here and they, you know, they save up and they plan for it. And I was like, this is my only option. Yeah, I have to go here. And so I showed up in in Gunnison. Part of the draw was also that I I they have so many nonprofits. And so I looked that up and thought I might be able to get into this community and and kind of ended up here on accident. I showed up in June and haven’t left since.

00:04:17 Matthew Kuehlhorn
You already I’m interested to know where does the passion Yep come from for you to get involved with homeless shelters, nonprofits? Is that rooted in anywhere the civic that you can point to?

00:04:32 Jodi Payne
You know, I think so. In my adult life, I’ve also asked myself this question, where does this, like, sense of responsibility come from? I and my my family does not mirror that really at all. But I recently have started to think a lot about my background and where I come from. And I grew up with two working class parents. I’m the youngest of four children. My dad was a union roofer and my mom worked at Walmart or, you know, her entire career. And that, you know, those both were 30 to 45 minute drives out of our little community. And every day I don’t think that we were ever incredibly impoverished. But like I I have such strong memories of like when 2008 happened and the housing market crashed and how scared my family was. And I was just a little kid and I, you know, I could pick up on that. And when I went to college, I really started to understand what it meant to be a part of a community and. Wanted to engage with my community a little differently and notice that in Marquette, MI. That’s where I went to college at Northern Michigan University. There is a huge homeless population up there and I think it’s colder in Marquette, MI than it is in Gunnison, Co. I I would I believe that and there was just these you know mostly men older men who were homeless and I I got involved at a shelter there and. It changed my life like that was the first time where I went like this is. I I’ve never felt like I belonged to something more. You know, these folks are smelly and they’re grouchy and they’re hungry, and I like them better than my my colleagues in the classroom. I like them better than the people I’m working with. And it kind of boiled down to it reminded me of my hometown or reminded me of the folks that I grew up with. And I I know very well that, like, the difference between me and someone who’s experiencing homelessness or food insecurity is like the difference between $400.00 and a family member who. There’s about you. Right. If I was homeless or broke I could call my brother or my sister and they might not want to you know give me some cash, but they would they they care about me. And I started to realize that those connections, those social connections were so important and they meant so much to me and and really ever since then, I that’s kind of where my heart has been is connecting with the folks who need that additional love in our community.

00:07:05 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, it’s beautiful.

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00:07:45 Matthew Kuehlhorn
So with regards to the Gunnison Country food pantry. Explained to me, you know, I’ve got my own interpretation of what it really does. I think that I’ve actually. You know. Gotten food from the pantry at some point, and certainly donated some food to the pantry, but what’s the mission? What specifically is the day by day effort going towards?

00:08:10 Jodi Payne
Yeah. Then, well, the mission is to provide food assistance to those in need. But I I might talk for a minute because the pantry has so much that it does that I do not think people know enough about. So to start with just food distribution, we distribute food on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays and that is where you come in and you shop, right, like you’re at a grocery store. That’s one part of our program, another element of our program. It’s home deliveries on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so volunteers come in in the morning, they pack bundles and we deliver food to those who have a barrier. And a barrier can be anything from, you know, you, you just. Are working during every every available shift. And you know you need to get food, but every time the pantry is open, you’re you can’t get it in, you can’t get in there. Or another barrier that might happen is that you’re in an adult who’s 60 plus and you can’t drive, or you’re in a Walker or there’s a medical ailment. I had a woman call me once and she had, to her own surprise, had recently become blind. And she was like, I can’t drive. Anymore, you know, and that’s that’s someone that we would home deliver to folks who are sick folks are experiencing COVID and then we have just a few other really special programs that I don’t know if people know enough about. We have many pantries in every school in Gunnison Watershed School District including Crested Butte. And so are many pantries are where a trusted adult teacher or counselor or nurse may bring a child to the food pantry and they can take as much food home and that they can carry in their backpacks. They’re all kid friendly meals in Gunnison and the high school. We have a lot more snacks. We’ve noticed that high schoolers aren’t really interested in the meals, but they you know, they’re growing. Anyone who’s a parent knows how the kids are constantly eating, and so we make sure that there’s plenty of snacks and things available. And then we have our fresh mobile pantry that is that goes out in May through November and into we call them hunger hotspots. So identified neighborhoods in need and we bring fresh fruits and fresh vegetables and produce and eggs and meat into those communities in the summer time when school is closed. And we just really want to be sure that kiddos and parents have access to good, good food and that’s really not hitting all of it. But I I don’t think people know enough and so that’s that’s where I would like. If people are curious, those are some of the really fun programs we have, and we always love when we have volunteers who want to head those sort of things up and so.

00:10:51 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, yeah. There’s a couple of things I want to extract out of that. And and and I also want to. I mean, I think it’s amazing. One of the pieces I want to know is, you know how. Big of an issue is food nutrition and food security in our local area and and how do we measure that? And I’ll go into a little bit of context and then turn that question over to you Jody. But what I’m hearing is a, you’re very volunteer intensive, so we’ll make a point to extract that and so if you’re listening, you can volunteer at the food pantry and. Benefit the community that way. And then I’m hearing a lot of delivery for, for, for schools, for students. I know in some of the stints of in my earlier chapters, I was working in the schools, and certainly if a kid comes to school hungry, there’s going to have this distraction. If they’re not getting their basic needs met, they’re not going to feel safe, they’re not going to have the state of awareness for learning, and they might even display behavior patterns that are. Disruptive because? They just need their basic nutrients as a simple piece. So I love the fact that you are pushing and have these programs in the schools and I thank you for that. I think it’s, I think it’s super beneficial. Back to this question, like how do we measure and how serious or how much of an issue is nutrition and and food security and access to healthy Whole Foods? How big of an issue is it here?

00:12:33 Jodi Payne
I well, as someone who thinks about a day in and day out, yeah, I I mean I think it’s huge and I’m gonna reference the state of the Community report that was put out and I believe 2021-2022 early 2022. But the county did this assessment and was trying to realize it was really just trying to learn what what our folks’s needs. You know what where is our community hurting and and what do we need more of? And something that came out of that report is something called the self-sufficiency. Standard. So here’s federal poverty level, right? And here’s the self-sufficiency standard. And there are a lot of folks caught in between. So this is the self-sufficiency standard is the income you need to make to live comfortably in Gunnison or your community. And the federal poverty level is what the government says, I will give you snap for, I’ll give you housing assistance for. And we have this gap between those two sort of standards. And the pantry is really trying to help the folks who are in between. They don’t qualify for federal assistance, but they are not making enough money to meet their needs in Gunnison. So we actually estimate that. Maybe we only serve about 30% of the folks who actually need food assistance and Gunnison County. And we kind of hypothesize that we know that some folks are utilizing SNAP benefits which is awesome. We know that some folks are utilizing seeing your meals through the Community Center and you know there’s mountain roots who also have some food security projects like their, you know, CSA boxes and holiday boxes. And so we estimate we see about 30%. And I know that there are folks who utilize other sources, but just based off the median income and Gunnison County, knowing what it takes to live here and I can’t remember exactly what the the income bracket is for the self-sufficiency standard. But knowing what that is and knowing what folks are making folks who work in food insecurity are going like where are the rest of the folks who need the, you know, need these resources? So that’s kind of that’s one way that we measure it and also. You know, on on our strategic plan we say to provide food assistance to everyone who asks. And so for us that’s a measurement. And anyone who comes through our doors and asks for food assistance is is served. And in 2022, we served 830 households, which spans out to about 100 or 1790 individuals and about 400 children. So we, you know, we served all of the folks who came into our door were brave enough to say, you know, I need help. Inflation is hurting my family and my car broke down. We need to fix our our furnace before winter or whatever it might be. But yeah, we I bought the size that we’re missing, and I think about 30% of the folks who still might actually need us, which is really sad, yeah. This.

00:15:41 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Crazy. So for those that are listening potentially in Grand Junction, we were talking about your numbers, Jody are are referencing Gunnison County, which we have about 15,000 people in population, right. So, yeah, I mean maybe 5%. Ish. Is already receiving some of the benefit through the pantry, um, and you’re suggesting that’s potentially low. I would also think, you know, in that gap between federal assistance and kind of that median, whatever level that really means, that gap is only growing. I mean with the cost of living, with inflation, with the price of eggs, all that stuff. Yeah, it’s, it’s only growing, right, so. Is there? And then you answer the question that I had, you know, as far as people accessing and sounds like anybody who asks. We’ll get assistance. There’s no qualification type opponent which helps reduce some of the potential stigma of would imagine maybe is preventing some of that other 30%. Like what? What would be a block?

00:16:56 Jodi Payne
Yeah, well, we yeah, we we think a lot about barriers in our community and part of the reason why we have such a low barrier process. You don’t have to prove your income. You don’t have to prove that you’re Gunnison or Gunnison County resident. You don’t even have to prove you’re a citizen. We don’t ask for an ID. Five think that some of the barriers that still. Exist in our community. A lot of them have to do with pride. Yeah, we don’t have to get deep into it, but like if you think about Reaganomics and the welfare queen and the sort of perception that folks. A set out to abuse the system when really it’s like the top 1% who are really smart, who can abuse the system and they spent like most of their life trying to figure out how to do that right. But it’s not as easy as I think folks think and to be associated with what might be considered a quote UN quote handout. How has the connotation it means something to people and that has been like you know that’s a systemic issue that has been something that our. Society has continued to go well that’s true right. Like those people exist. We know from the data that like 1% or less actually try to scam any sort of assistance. And and my time in the pantry, I have never come across someone who I believed was who wasn’t truly in need and and so that that pride part of it, I think our community is really awesome and accepting and is growing more and more accepting and that’s something that folks hold really internally. Yeah. When you can’t meet your basic needs you can’t meet the basic needs of your family. People don’t want to talk about that and they don’t want people to know. And I think that that’s where we run into a lot of it especially with inflation. And I’m I’m suspecting a lot of young people and young families who are going, we’re barely making ends meet but haven’t quite gotten over that that heart piece of it, which is you know, feeling like maybe they failed and the pantries there to make sure that folks don’t fail and make sure they’re and their families stay happy and.

00:19:05 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Well, that’s exactly right. And I think, you know, flipping some of that pride, it’s like. You know, I’m a repair guy, so if I go do a repair and I’ve got the right tools, I’m set. But if I need a certain tool, I’ve got to go get that tool. Otherwise I’m just going to bumble through it. And as we are talking about caring for our bodies and caring for our families and our children’s bodies, like food is that. Tool and the yeah entry is just a tool to the whole mix. So whether it’s long term, short term, I totally understand the ride component and I would imagine some of this could just be around ignorance, a maybe not knowing that the tool and resource is available, be not knowing how to utilize the tool. So can you walk us through Jody, where is the pantry located for for Gunnison Country and and what mechanically does it look like? Like if I. Am somebody that? I mean is it, is it one meal, is it really like shopping for the week kind of deal? Is it any of the combination combination across the board like what would I experience as I walk in?

00:20:16 Jodi Payne
Yeah. Oh, that’s a great question. And even if you aren’t necessarily someone who’s in need, but you’re asking yourself that question, the pantry is open to the public. You can always come in and just greet volunteers and grab a loaf of bread. Those are that’s always free. We won’t make you fill out an application, but I encourage folks, if you’re wondering what is it like in there, go in when we’re open and grab a loaf of bread and and meet our volunteers. But the mechanics of it. So currently we are located on Ohio and Maine. We’re hoping that in April of 2023 will be moving to our new facility which is off TOMICHI and it used to be the previous Colorado Fitness facility. And so in that space we’re hoping that it’ll look, yeah, it’ll look like a grocery store. Yes. And the idea is that folks will have the autonomy to shop and that volunteers will be present to help answer questions and and make sure that you know the the process is equitable that folks are taking in an appropriate. Amount of food for their family, but ideally it’s we’re moving to a more hands off approach once we have more space in our current location. We do not have a lot of space and shopping’s a little confusing. And so when you come in to the Ohio and Main Street, if you’ve never been there before, they have you thought an application. If you’re a Spanish speaker on Wednesdays we have Spanish and Cora translators available to make sure that your experience is comfortable and you understand the application, you understand the process. But once you’re in and you’re all the intake has happened, you get to shop in a pantry, volunteer the first few times will come around with you and explain like we have some food limits and it just kind of depends on what’s been shared with us. You know, we give, we share what we’ve been given. But ideally you’re able to take enough food, food assistance for the week. And I always try to tell people come in with your grocery list like if you can, I’m really, I’m really bad at planning ahead. So it’s not fair for me to tell folks to do that. But I, I believe, believe me, that it helps if, you know, you know, you’re gonna make these six things or you wanna make these things for dinner, come in with your grocery list and find everything that you can in the pantry. And then we suggest that that’s where you can go to city market and pick up three or four additional items. But if you come into the pantry with kind of what you’re hoping to get out of it, what you know you’re looking for, I think folks have a lot more pleasant experience sometimes. You can get in there and go, well now, have kind of a hodgepodge of things and I’m not. Make sure what I’m going to do with that. And so we, we really try to remind our guests, come in with a plan. You know what you’re looking for, or at least what you’re hoping for. But we, we say we provide enough food assistance for a week for each individual of your household. So if you have five members in your household, you’ll get to take more food than just someone who has one individual in their household. And we use the term food assistance because again, we share what we’ve been given and we want to make sure that we have plenty for everyone who comes through. Door. And so at this current time, we don’t necessarily give away enough food for a, you know, a family for an entire week, but we do provide a substantial amount of their fresh veggies, their milk, their dairy or milk, eggs, cheese, butter, we those are staples. The pantry always has those and right now those are very expensive.

00:23:38 Matthew Kuehlhorn

00:23:40 Jodi Payne
Every year, yeah, we try to distribute lots of produce and staples or things like beans, rice, breads. Those are always guaranteed in the pantry. Does that answer your question?

00:23:50 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, it sure does. So just to reflect what I’m pretty sure I heard, I mean, we can think of the food pantry as a grocery store.

00:23:58 Jodi Payne
A free grocery store and who couldn’t benefit from free groceries?

00:24:03 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Man, no kidding. Where does the food pantries support come from? Not just like dollars and cents to run the budget, but what about the food? Where where is this coming from?

00:24:16 Jodi Payne
Yeah. So we have three main food sources. We have what we call our feeding America partners. So if you’ve ever seen the Pantry van driving around in the morning, we go to Safeway and go to City Market. We go to Walmart, we stop in at Gunnison vitamin and we stop in at Wilders organic market. And so those are folks who pretty regularly donate food to us and I believe in 2022 are feeding America Partners donated over 100,000. Pounds of food to us throughout the year. So that’s one major source. And then we have our care and share. Food bank out of Colorado. Matt, pop quiz. Do you know the difference between a food bank and A food pantry?

00:25:00 Matthew Kuehlhorn
The bank is gonna be a storehouse. The pantry’s gonna be the grocery store.

00:25:05 Jodi Payne
Yes, exactly. Yep. So we have you killed it. We have a distributor based out of Colorado Springs for who serves Gunnison County. And so based off of our staff numbers, based off of what we are recording that we’re seeing in the pantry, they allocate what’s called the Emergency Food Assistance Program, T Fat food to us. So that’s some of your like and for folks who are familiar with. Food justice, you know, that’s kind of where some of the government food comes from, the government cheese. And so the tea fat program actually has really ramped up in the past few years to kind of work past some of that stigma and give folks better quality and higher quality of food. But that’s where our, like consistent canned goods staples come from. And then our last source is red bucket drives, or when tourists come into town and they’re leaving their VRBO and they empty out everything, they drop it off at the food pantry. Yeah. And so about 3030 pounds, £30,000 of food comes in from our community every year, whether it’s through hosting red buckets or just the kindness of their heart. But those are, those are the main sources. Yeah, it’s.

00:26:17 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Beautiful. Can people donate food anytime?

00:26:20 Jodi Payne
Any time right on yes and and give us a call or stop in but really I I always recommend to like to purchase food or to give food that you would want to see in your cupboard. Yeah I think it’s like really easy to just want to purchase you know a couple of canned goods but like if you’re not buying canned goods for your kitchen you know thinking about that like holistic approach to food and how spices and different like aroma. Or arrow aromatic things add like a a home. You know, a home element to food. And so I just always encourage folks, donate food, donate it from your heart. What would you want to see in your cover? What would you want to see in your pantry and really try to extend that to the community.

00:27:07 Matthew Kuehlhorn
I love that. So regionally, you mentioned there’s a partner in Colorado Springs that works with Gunnison County. I know it in my past. I went to, I believe it’s a food bank in Grand Junction. That helps serve Mesa County, but there’s not necessarily a is there any partnership like on the Western Slope for food security, food bank, food pantry?

00:27:31 Jodi Payne
Pantry. That’s a good question. So I know that like our, our food bank covers like a a huge portion of the Western slope and then food Bank of Iraqis also covers. And I don’t know where Grand Junction might fall into that. But I’m actually a part of what’s called the rural Mountain Town coalition. And it’s a group of mostly folks who run food pantries, homeless shelters, very basic needs. And it’s not just centered in Colorado, it’s kind of centered in Utah and New Mexico. Arizona, where we come together and we we kind of network and we talk about what we’re seeing. And so if there’s any food pantries in Grand Junction who are interested in being a part of that, I would First off love to connect with you and would love to connect you to that group because that is an amazing resource. And I think it’s a good way that we can kind of keep up with what’s going on regionally even though we’re looking at multiple different states. I don’t know if that answered your.

00:28:28 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Question. That’s good. And you, you bring up coalition and I think you know so many. Of today’s challenges and maybe even yesterday’s right, but today we’re we’re fronted with with challenges and certainly we’re talking about food security today, but you talk about housing, you talk about other health, public safety, mental health. All these pieces and I think the real solutions are found through coalition work, even though you can maybe take some time in process because you’re pulling multiple people together and. It can create a dynamic of of conversation and a pooling of resources that can actually get some solutions going. We don’t have, we’re not gonna send this conversation, Jody, for another 30 minutes and and this next question is going to start teetering into where we could go down steep rabbit holes for a long time, right? But you’re also part of our Communities health coalition. And. There’s there’s certainly a lot of work going on in our community and I just wanted to open up an opportunity to speak to some things that people may not necessarily see so. As somebody that’s been involved in some quasi government, some nonprofit in my past, I’ve seen a lot of the coalition work in our community. I know that there’s a lot of resources to support public health, public safety, mental health, substance abuse and prevention, food security. From your perspective, you know, what do you see in our community that folks may not necessarily. See, day by day, right. It’s not like the health coalitions or GC, SAP, gsap does some OK marketing, but it’s not like there’s a bunch of marketing going around talking about how much of a supported fabric there is in our community. But I I know it’s there and I love your perspective on that. Just from your seed of being involved and what do you see going on that people may not know about?

00:30:35 Jodi Payne
Well, First off, if you live in Gunnison and you have not heard of the Gunnison community, Gunnison County Health Coalition, give it a Google reach out to the county because it’s a really wonderful group of folks and it’s really, it’s a mobilized body. It’s people who are doing the work who are concerned citizens who come together in a large group once every other month. And then leadership. I’m also on the health coalition leadership team. We meet once a month. And then the health coalition has split up into 3 subgroups to mobilize. And actually you really try to get our hands dirty in the community and I facilitate a a workforce development subgroup. And so three things that you, I see that maybe you are community members don’t when you are busy bodying around your, you know, the day and we have kids and jobs and busy lives. One is a sense of belonging, especially for youth and minority folks, that our community is wonderful, you know, loving and we are welcoming. And we’re still kind of missing the buck on that and maybe not doing everything we can to work on upstream, upstream prevention for youth, right? And making sure that we have a community that’s safe and welcoming for youth and in a community that’s safe and welcoming to minority populations. Another thing that we see, which is another subgroup, is access to resources. This community is so rich in resources. I mean, the next time you drive by, just really try to look and see, well, you know, there’s a food pantry and wow, there’s tough enough to wear pink and there’s public health and all of these really awesome resources that are spread out completely, you know, from Crested Butte to unincorporated Gunnison County and that they’re hard. For people to access, they’re there, they exist and people are not. It’s maybe not even that. People don’t know that they are available. It’s just the logistics of getting from one spot to another when you have you know children and work and life happening around you. So it’s one other issue and then the third is workforce development, which I’m heading that subgroup for and really just trying to identify what are our workforces needs, what are our employers needs, how can we best support this community. Is that through sober work environments? Is that through training? Matt and I had a conversation about mental health first aid or suicide awareness training and. Do we need employers to understand this? We work with a transitory population and those folks are incredibly at risk for. Different behavioral health issues. And so as a community, we see a lot of behavioral health issues as really what those three things kind of boil down into is we seem to have resources and support, but folks are not connected to them. They aren’t feeling connected to our community and they’re maybe not always connected to the place where they spend the most time, their job, which is really. Yeah. So that’s what I see. That’s kind of bleak.

00:33:53 Matthew Kuehlhorn
It’s bleak, but it’s also there is a silver lining. There, because you know, I think the the point. That you just illuminated is that in our community we have a lot of resources. Yeah, yeah. And if somebody is listening or if you know of somebody that should be listening, who might be. Call it a struggle but wanting to go somewhere like. Maybe you’re here and we wanna go here, right? There’s enough resources in our community as long as we kind of get out of our ego and go shopping at the pantry or go reach out to public whatever it is that we might need. Like there’s enough resources in Gunnison County and. And it and I agree with that, I think that’s there’s such a fabric of. Within a resource is the best word, but there’s a lot of strengths that are in our county that a lot of people may not even recognize. And if we did have this recognition, if somebody was driven to go from point A to point B, then string together the resources to help you get there. Go shopping at the pantry for a week and start reducing your own out of pocket food costs for this short period as as needed or long.

00:35:11 Jodi Payne
I think with that, if I may make one more point, really trying to drive uh Community resources to congregate to come together. So the food pantry in our new facility is working with juvenile services. We’re partnering with juvenile services to have peer support navigators in the food pantry and case managers, so that folks who are already coming to the food pantry will now have access to resource navigation and some behavioral health services. And in my mind that doesn’t take away from what. The pantry does. It doesn’t take away from what these other organizations do. In fact, I I believe that we are so much stronger when we’re together and we’re not just putting a big old Band-Aid on food insecurity. Instead, we’re going here are the tools so that maybe you won’t need to come back to the food pantry in a couple of months. Whenever you’re ready, you will, you know you you you might not need this anymore. And I think that at least in my work that that’s the most important part, is am I trying to work myself out of a job. By trying to give all of my community members everything that they need so that the food pantry is irrelevant. And that’s really how I approach my work. And I I think that we are so much stronger when we go, like, let’s let’s do this together. Because that’s what we’re that’s what people want, that’s what my donors want, right? They want me to help make people more food secure, and that’s what our community wants. And I think when we decide to lay down our own ego and go, this is the best for our community. This isn’t the best for the food pantry. It’s not the best for cooler. It’s the best for everyone, but that makes it it’s more resilient and stronger and I’m so proud to be a part of a community that values that, you know, partnerships.

00:36:53 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, me too. Thank you for. Thank you for adding on there, Jody. How do volunteers reach out? How do folks that want to utilize the Pantry services reach out? How do we find you, Jody?

00:37:06 Jodi Payne
Yeah, so you can find us on the Internet, Gunnison Country There, there’s a contact form. If you’re looking to volunteer and you can apply or not apply, you can inquire through our website. You can always give us a call at 970-641-4156. And I’m holding the pantry phone this week, so you might you might get to chat with me directly, but that’s another great way to inquire about a home delivery. Do you qualify for a home delivery if you’re feeling? Curious about the food pantry and coming in? You can always give us a call and we’ll help you. We’ll talk you through it. But but you might be able to expect. And if you’re looking to volunteer, you can also give us a phone call and we’ll get you connected.

00:37:49 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Awesome. We’ll share those contacts and her show notes. And if you just heard that, reach out whether you want to utilize the pantry and go shopping there or to help out as a volunteer. Jody, thank you so much for your time and thank you for this passion that you have to just give back and help thread together this Community coalition work that I think is so just critically important. So thank you.

00:38:14 Jodi Payne
Yeah. Well, thanks for giving me a platform, Matt. This is really, it was really wonderful chatting with you today.

00:38:19 Matthew Kuehlhorn
Yeah, I really appreciated it. Have a great day.

00:38:22 Jodi Payne
Yeah, you too.