■ By Melissa Diaz Hernandez / Editor
Prayers for delayed rain were answered Saturday as The Community Pantry hosted the community for its grand-reopening.
The pantry is now located in a building in the Trinity Lutheran parking lot, on Columbia Street south of E. Florida Avenue. The facility gave the pantry the ability to rid itself of the extra monthly storage costs.
“I am assured that Jim has a heart for the people,” said Sundae Sayles, legislative assistant to Riverside County Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington.
There were a few donations made to the pantry on Saturday. One for $250 from the San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce, a $250 donation from the Blue Thong Society, and one for $22,000 from the San Jacinto Lions Club.
Community Pantry Executive Director Jim Lineberger reported the statistics on the assistance the pantry has provided. The information is also provided on the pantry’s website. The Community Pantry employs a full-time executive director and a part-time staff, utilizing the services of over 65 dedicated volunteers putting in over 1500 hours per month to handle thousands of pounds of food and process over 900 families each month. The volunteers range from 12 years old to over 70 years of age. From July 2011 to June 2017, the pantry provided over 185,200 people with 3 meals per day for 2 to 3 days. It provided over 741 people/families with electrical assistance. It provided over 468 people/families with gas assistance and 174 people/families with water bill assistance.
Those in attendance were able to tour the new facility and were treated to lunch.
In addition to Sayles, Hemet Mayor Pro Tem Karlee Meyer, Hemet Council-women Linda Krupa and Bonnie Wright, Hemet Councilman Russ Brown, and San Jacinto Mayor Pro Tem Russ Utz were all in attendance to support the pantry.
The pantry provides qualified residents with up to a 3-day supply of food for each member of the residence. Included in the package are canned and packaged staple foods as well as fresh meats, vegetables and bakery items when available.
In addition to food, The Community Pantry receives funds from various grants and agencies for multiple programs. Other services it provides include emergency shelter, utility assistance, suds and duds (a program that provides weekly laundromat services for the homeless in the community), the “Water of Life” program (water bill assistance for qualified families), and Project “Warmth” (provides warm clothing to the homeless in the valley every winter, a program that is supported by The Soboba Foundation). The pantry provides these programs as funding permits.
Just some of the businesses that work with and donate to the pantry are Winco, Walmart, Sprouts, Target, Grocery Outlet, Panera Bread, CR&R and both valley U.S.P.S post offices do a food drive.
The Community Pantry, 191 S. Columbia St., Hemet, is open Monday thru Thursday from 9:30 a.m.–noon. You can donate online at http://hemetcommunitypantry.org/. If you would like to volunteer, please call 951-929-1101 or email:firstname.lastname@example.org. Every Friday from 9 a.m.–1 p.m., Golden Era Golf Course is open to the public and hosts a weekly golf fundraiser to help raise funds.