Kathy Downs is Chairperson for the Cavalier County Emergency Food Pantry committee. There are nine board members, all of whom are local volunteers. There was a food pantry in Cavalier County that was run by an entity out of Devils Lake previous to this time. The community was encouraged to take over about four years ago as it was getting difficult to staff one person for limited hours every month.
“There was a call put out for local volunteers to be on the committee, and so people responded and that’s how we then came to be,” Kathy said.
Kathy recalls on moment that has stuck with her over those four years. Sometimes it’s the small things you never think about that make all the difference in the world. She recalled a single woman who had recently lost her job and basically had nothing. She was not able to stay where she had been living. Most of the food given out is canned and since the people getting the food may be living out of their car, they started putting can openers in the food baskets.
“This particular person ended up with a food basket, and in tears, she was so extremely grateful. That’s the one I remember. I never thought of something as simple as a can opener. It’s when anybody is grateful, and most people are, that you feel like you helped somebody.”
When asked how often and how much food is distributed, Kathy explained that it is given out on an “as-needed” basis. The number of households who use this service can vary from month to month and week to week. The pantry is utilized in the short-term during times of emergency, such as when a family is waiting on their next month of food stamps or if times are tight for an individual waiting on their next paycheck. Each household receives approximately 150 pounds of food, enough to feed a family of four for two weeks. When the baskets are put together, they are designed to encourage the family or individual to make a meal. For example, there is often frozen meat included, so they’ll put in spaghetti and sauce, or a taco kit.
Since June 2016, twenty-three families have been served. This includes 39 adults and 31 kids.
The Cavalier County Food Pantry also supports their local businesses by spending funds within the community. “When we get our money, we make sure it stays in the county.” Both Munich store and Leever’s store have been great assets to the food pantry.