Country Cupboard Food Pantry, helping others while getting help from donations

Marcia West, Helen Crawford, President Carol Hoffman, Secretary Charon Geigle and Mike West in front of one month’s supply.

"Christmas time is a good time for people wanting to give. The CCFP (Country Cupboard Food Pantry) will make the season's donation last for a while," said Carol Hoffman, president of the CCFP.

This volunteer-operated free food distribution organization is based out of Wall, but it covers a geographical area that includes eight zip codes. The people served are determined by their zip code, no other eligibility criteria is required. Hoffman stressed that the CCFP is intended to be supplemental for those in need, it is not a 'store.' People in the qualifying area are eligible for 10 pounds of food per month per person, no other questions asked. The area zip codes include Wall (57790), Wasta (57791), Creighton (57790), Cottonwood and Quinn (57775), Elm Springs (57791), Milesville (57553) and Philip (57567).

"Basically we are on an honor system," said Hoffman. "Usually one of the heads of a household fills out a form. After that, then any person they designate can pick up the food monthly." The form consists of both sides of one sheet of paper, and asks mainly for the applicant's address. The hours that the CCFP is open during the winter are 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. every Wednesday and 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. every Saturday. The hours will change and probably be fewer during the summer.

Hoffman said, "We can take care of a person in less than 10 minutes. Our volunteers are on the ball and can box the food right up." A family of four may have four cans of vegetables, two cans of beans, two cans of fruit, one box of cereal, one dinner combo (such as a box of macaroni and cheese, tuna and tuna helper, or hamburger and hamburger helper), one bag of rice or pasta or dried beans, one estimated two-pound block of cheese, and one container of meat if available. This is usually less than 20 pounds. The rest of the total weight to reach 40 pounds for a family of four is filled in with what is available.

Currently the donations of food and money for food supplies furnishes enough for approximately 90 people. Currently the number of people using the food pantry is also approximately 90 per month.

"We have some pretty big families, with most families having four or five kids," said Hoffman. She said that Mike and Marcia West, Philip, have volunteered to help in Wall and to be designees for people in the Philip area who have made the initial visit to the CCFP. With a rallying motto of "One can! You can!" collections of food in the Philip area are being done by Girl Scout and church food drives, and donations are being accepted at Coyle's SuperValu grocery and at the First National Bank in Philip.

Having its required mission statement, bylaws, budget and board of directors, the CCFP is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Its mission is to distribute food to the needy and to refer those in need to other community and state organizations for social services. The officers are Hoffman, president, Cindy Hauk, vice president, Lillian Helms, treasurer and Charon Geigle, secretary. Currently there are 37 volunteer workers, with 10 of those being board members. All the volunteers must go through an annual food training course and take a yearly civil rights test.

The CCFP is also a distributor for the Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP, commonly known as commodities, for those who have enrolled in the program. This program allows those eligible according to income to collect free food on a weekly basis.