Family & Intercultural Resource Center moves Silverthorne food pantry to Dillon
The Family & Intercultural Resource Center’s latest food pantry, called the Dillon Community Food Market, opened Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 340 Fiedler Ave. in Dillon. It replaces the nonprofit’s Thrift & Treasure store that used to be located at the same facility.
The change in operations is tied to resource center staff returning to their offices in Silverthorne at 251 W. Fourth St. As the demand for food services grew during the coronavirus pandemic, more of the building was used for food storage, which was possible only when the staff was working remotely.
“We outgrew it in the pandemic by a lot,” Executive Director Brianne Snow said about the Silverthorne food pantry, adding that boxes were everywhere. “It worked while we were working from home, but now that we’re trying to get back into the office, there’s just no space.”
Snow estimates that the new location is roughly 10 times the size of the Silverthorne pantry. She said a big difference is that it is walk-in service rather than drive-thru. This allows staff members to make in-person connections with folks and continue to help the community.
“We weren’t able to connect with clients on a basis to understand what else they needed above and beyond the food pantry,” Snow said. “Oftentimes, if you’re coming for food, you probably need access to other services, and that’s really what we were lacking.”
Carla Decker, director of programs for the center, said they divided the Dillon area in half to create a socially distanced lobby and back room where volunteers can safely work. She explained the process works like a grocery store but in reverse.
People are greeted by a staff member, pick the food they want via an ordering system and then receive fresh produce, eggs, dairy and meat from local producers in addition to nonperishable foods. According to the center, a family of three can save up to $700 a month by using the market and then apply those savings to health care or housing costs.
“It’s like a farmers market,” Decker said. “It’s going to be great.”
Other upgrades include an improved loading area for deliveries and, eventually, a digital method for clients to place their order that allows the center to better track inventory.
The Dillon Community Food Market is open from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and noon to 1 p.m. Thursdays. Masks are required in all food markets. A grand opening is planned for early October.
The Dillon location and the Breckenridge Community Food Market at 1745 Airport Road both accept donations of nonperishable food as well as reusable grocery bags, egg cartons in good condition, and unopened diapers and baby wipes. The most requested food items are cereal, pasta, canned tomatoes, peanut butter and mac and cheese. Other needed goods include baking items like flour, cake mixes and oil, tortillas, dried beans, meal kits like Hamburger Helper, and salt and pepper.
However, monetary donations are preferred over food. That way, the resource center can order and stock fresh ingredients.
“Families can typically go in and afford canned goods, but what they can’t afford is those products that keep them healthy,” Snow said.
Thrift store operations are currently in transition to the Breckenridge facility now that the food pantry has relocated to Dillon. The resource center also hopes to open the new thrift store in October, but the local workforce is a major factor.
“It really depends on if we can staff it,” Snow said. “That’s been a huge holdup for us.”
Thrift store donations are therefore on pause. In fact, the resource center has to pay to remove items left at its doors, which then takes funds away from the food markets and other essential programs. Those wishing to donate clothing and other goods are instead encouraged to give to places such as ReSaddled Thrift Store, Summit Habitat for Humanity ReStore and For Pet’s Sake in Breckenridge.
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