The First Unitarian Food Pantry is 100% volunteer run and staffed, and provides a bag of groceries to anyone who states that they have a need.
If you are a person or household in need, the pantry is open on Wednesdays from 12:00-2:00 and the church is located on the corner of Carlisle and Comanche. The pantry currently runs on a drive-through model and all volunteers wear masks. Enter the parking lot from Comanche, give the volunteer there a small amount of contact information, and pick up your bag. There is no bureaucracy, no eligibility determination, etc. No humiliation, just kindness and a little bit of help.
- FOOD MUST NOT BE PAST DATES. It’s one of those tedious things that home cooks don’t have to worry about, but folks who are distributing food to the public need to be careful. (And nothing says, “Here, I gave this away because I hated it, I’m not very generous, but enjoy!” better than a dusty 5-year-old can of something strange.)
- GIANT CONTAINERS ARE GENEROUS, BUT NOT VERY HELPFUL. UNLESS IT’S BEANS AND RICE (this is NM, after all). The UU food pantry is a pantry, not a kitchen. They distribute up to 100 as-close-to-identical-as-possible bags of groceries every week. So smaller packaging helps them pass the stuff out further. Five small jars of peanut butter would be more helpful than one gigantic Costco tub.
- BEANS AND RICE, GOOD! However, they do love and especially need DRY BEANS AND RICE in larger sacks, which are very economical donations. They have volunteers who repackage BEANS AND RICE into smaller bags to be distributed. BEANS AND RICE, GOOD!
- NO PERISHABLES OR CRUSHABLE/EASILY DAMAGED PACKAGING. The UU food pantry buys their perishables (dairy, some fresh veggies, meat) from the Roadrunner Food Bank on Tuesday to distribute Wednesday. Bread and baked goods are easily crushed in transport and perishable, so they are a real no-no. If you’re wondering about glass, jars are just fine.
- THE WISH LIST – MOST WANTED DONATIONS: DRY BEANS AND RICE; 15 OZ CANS OF FRUITS, SOUPS, OR VEGGIES; PASTA (in boxes, see #4); SMALL JARS OF PEANUT BUTTER, (and powdered milk, which they think might be too expensive to ask for but would love to have).
- AVOID BABY FOOD – it is a low demand item. Many low income and homeless families benefit from WIC (Women Infants and Children nutrition program) which is an awesome thing that provides formula if needed and baby food among other nutritional support services. And since it’s in low demand, the UUs have what they need already.
- AVOID EXOTIC FOODS. Think mainstream things that anyone could use to come up with a basic meal. The use of oddball sauces and condiments, strongly flavored items like canned sardines, exotics like hearts of palm, are matters of taste and cooking skill and not essential. The pantry is trying to provide adequate basic nutrition in a generally palatable form. The food pantry staff will sort the weird stuff out and set it aside and only wind up giving it out if someone comes in asking, “Do you have a jar of pickled yak trotters?”
- If you can’t afford as much as you’d like to give, my personal suggestion is to ASK OTHERS TO HELP. Talk to your neighbors or coworkers! You may wind up with several cases of goods to share.
- We’d love not to have to say this, but… PLEASE, NOTHING THAT IS ALREADY DAMAGED. Badly dented cans, leaking or rusty cans or jar lids, open packages for whatever reason.. We sort out this kind of thing, and the outdated stuff, and discard them, which is both a chore and a shame. If you would not want to eat it, please don’t pass it along.
- FINALLY, MONEY IS A WONDERFUL HELPFUL DONATION. You can donate right here on our website and mark “Food Pantry” as the donation. The UU Food Pantry spends over $20,000 per year on food from Roadrunner and other food sources. There is no overhead as the pantry is in the church, and no labor cost as 100% of the work is done by volunteers. So, all of your donation goes to buy food – perishables and crush-ables mostly. Your donation will be potentially tax deductible (check with your accountant, etc).