Mike Gardner walked out of his home in the River Meadows Community in Montrose on Wednesday with a surprise he didn’t expect. He walked over to Arnie Chavez of Grace Community Church’s Mobile Food Relief pantry, who shook his hand and told him his family of five — Gardner, his wife and three children — would receive $100 worth of groceries, free of charge. Volunteers began to drop off food bags on the porch while Gardner, who didn’t expect such a visit, began to sport a smile, lost for words at the generosity.
Gardner then thanked Chavez, his staff and the volunteers.
Chavez, with his staff at Extending Grace — an outreach at the church — and community volunteers, have been delivering food through Mobile Food Relief, a mobile food pantry, to unexpecting families this summer, an effort that’s now spanned four weeks. Last week, the group visited the Northbrook Villas Mobile Home Community, visiting four houses. On Wednesday, five families received groceries consisting of canned food, flour, sugar, bananas, chicken and beef, eggs, and milk. The children smile when they see the mobile pantry arrive at their home, and parents give their thanks to the group of volunteers.
Any community resident is welcome to call 970-249-5306 to receive the groceries. There are no requirements. Chaves and his staff only need a name, number, amount of people in the household, and an address.
Zoe Motley, who is on staff, said Extending Grace received a grant this spring that’s allowed the group to extend the service to different communities.
“That’s how we’re able to extend this into the rest of the community. Now, it’s not just five families in one trailer park a week. With the money, we’re able to serve the rest of the community,” Motley said.
Chavez and Motley were joined by Vikky Rivas, an intern, and Bill and Karin Slater, Montrose residents who were eager to volunteer. The Slaters have been lending a hand through volunteer work with Extending Grace for years, Bill said.
“I’ve been bugging [Chavez] telling him, ‘I want to get on the food truck’, and he goes, ‘well, we have other people’,” Bill said with a laugh. “But [on Wednesday] he called us and said, ‘can you guys come?
“It’s a way of saying hi and helping out.”
The outreach at Extending Grace isn’t limited to the food pantry as movie nights and youth groups are also part of extending to the community, Motley said.
This spring, Extending Grace picked up 110 lunches at different schools in the district, and delivered them to different communities in Montrose. The outreach also helped with transportation for those who didn’t have rides.
“We’re serving the community,” Chavez said.
Mobile Food Relief deliveries occur every Wednesday at 6 p.m.