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Mon, Dec. 06

Project Fill the Need opens food pantry in VOC

The next food distribution will be Saturday, Oct. 30, and then again on Saturday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, at Big Park Community School, 25 Saddlehorn Drive, Village of Oak Creek. The hours are scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Independent file photo)

The next food distribution will be Saturday, Oct. 30, and then again on Saturday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Dec. 25, 2021, at Big Park Community School, 25 Saddlehorn Drive, Village of Oak Creek. The hours are scheduled for 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (Independent file photo)

VILLAGE OF OAK CREEK — Local residents and volunteers cheered the opening of the Project Fill the Need food pantry on Saturday, Sept. 25, at the Big Park Community School in the Village of Oak Creek, according to a news release.

Organized by a small group of supporters, the new food pantry helps those in VOC, Camp Verde, Rimrock, Lake Montezuma, Cornville, and other nearby unincorporated communities in the Verde Valley area.

The pantry is located in what was once a science classroom (C 105) at the now-closed Big Park, 25 Saddlehorn Drive. The long, wide black tables that once held microscopes and petri dishes are now filled with boxes of cereal, cans of vegetables, plastic jars of spaghetti sauce, and even household and personal care items like tooth paste and hand soap.

One table is devoted to cat and dog food, while another features wholesome legumes from pintos to lentils. Because the classroom does not include a refrigerator, the food pantry does not distribute fresh fruit or vegetables, dairy items, or meat, but efforts are made to provide both individuals and families with shelf-stable food that can be stored or used to make nutritious meals for those in need.

One of the features that define this food pantry is that participants can use the brown paper bags that are supplied when they check in to “shop” for the items they want.

This allows them to supplement their resources with the amount and kinds of food they want, rather than receiving a pre-packed box of whatever is available.

“We believe that it is important to provide those we help with healthy food in a comfortable setting,” Kathy Wozniak, president of the Project Fill the Need board said. “By choosing what they want and need, we avoid waste and allow people to add to their cupboards in a dignified manner.”

For those on gluten-free, low sodium, or with other special dietary needs, some specialty food items will also be available, including vegetarian versions of products.

Another feature of the food pantry is that intake requirements are minimal, and no identification or qualifying documentation is needed.

“We want to serve people who are facing food insecurity, and avoid lengthy forms, long lines, while maintaining social distancing,” Wozniak said. “You do not need to live in the VOC, Camp Verde, or any of the other areas that are far from other local food banks. All we want to do is make sure that no one goes hungry.”

NEXT FOOD DATES

The next food distribution will be on Saturday, Oct. 30, and then again on Saturday, Nov. 27, and Saturday, Dec. 25.

The hours are 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., allowing those who work a traditional Monday through Friday workweek to participate, even on Christmas Day.

For information on volunteering, donating, or to find out more, contact Project Fill the Need at info@ProjectFillTheNeed.org. Monetary donations can be sent to P.O. Box 20801, Sedona, AZ 86341.

Information provided by Project Fill The Need.

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