Crescent City's newest food pantry celebrated its first anniversary the way anyone would celebrate an important milestone — with music, food and cupcakes.
Pacific Pantry served more than 500 families and 1,000 individuals in both March and April, manager Gloria Martinez said, and the feedback has been "wonderful."
"It's a choice pantry," Martinez said Friday. "People grab the items they're willing to consume, which minimizes food waste."
Though Pacific Pantry is a success, the Community Development Block Grant that enabled the Community Food Council and Family Resource Center of the Redwoods to open it is set to expire in October, according to FRC Executive Director Amira Long. Though the pantry has "plenty," Long said she expects a shortfall after October.
"We were not able to apply for new CDBG funding through the city because they (the city) has to have spent down over half of that grant that came after this one," Long said. "And they have not as of yet. We are, obviously, applying for other funding and being creative."
The FRC and Community Food Council began planning the new food pantry after it entered into a contract with Crescent City in September 2017 to receive $239,147 in already-granted CDBG dollars.
Those dollars were reallocated from Rural Human Services' food bank and domestic violence shelter after that organization failed an audit and did not readily respond to questions regarding a sexual harassment settlement at the time.
Crescent City Manager Eric Wier confirmed Tuesday the city has to have spent 50 percent of the CDBG dollars it received before it can apply for more funding. In addition to the 2016 grant, the bulk of which was allocated to Pacific Pantry, the city received $5 million in CDBG dollars in July 2018 it intended for a storm drain project on Front Street.
The North Coast Rape Crisis Team received $221,134 in CDBG dollars from the July 2018 award and code enforcement received $243,982 for local abatement projects.
On Tuesday, Wier said as soon as the city realized it couldn't reapply for CDBG funds until it spent 50 percent of its grant it began working with Pacific Pantry to find other funding sources.
"Our hope is to get that $5 million grant spent by the end of next year — by the end of 2020 — and we'll be able to reapply again," Wier said. "We're definitely trying to work with them to find additional funding sources. They've been a great subrecipient on the '16 CDBG. I'd love to see that program continue and have them continue to help people."
Long said the FRC was awarded a $302,000 grant from CalRecycle to minimize food waste in Del Norte County. This includes using the pantry to offer "usable produce and foods" offered through gleaning and donations. Pacific Pantry always accepts monetary donations as well as fresh produce, eggs and other food items, Long said.
"Our vision is to be able to provide fresh healthy food," she said. "We also have cereal, bread, soup, etc. because it's helpful also, but we're not in the habit of giving out unhealthy filler foods if we can help it."
Pacific Pantry serves clients from 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays and from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturdays at the rear of the FRC of the Redwoods, 494 Pacific Avenue in Crescent City. For more information, call (707) 464-0955 or visit www.facebook.com/pacpantry/ .
Reach Jessica Cejnar at firstname.lastname@example.org .