Julie Jorgensen just wanted to help.
The Oakdale mom and active member of Oakdale Family Church of the Nazarene decided to share this with the members of the church in the beginning of 2010. Jorgensen’s vision was to start a Food Pantry to service persons in the community needing assistance.
“We felt there was a need for it,” friend Robin Garcia said, referring to Jorgensen’s idea. “Especially with the way the recession is. So many find themselves in a spot they’ve never been in before.”
According to Jorgensen the Food Pantry was not an original idea for the church, but one she felt needed to be reinstated. After consulting with past Food Pantry members, Jorgensen put the plan in place.
In February of this year with the help and hard work of fellow church members Robin Garcia, Stacey Gonzales and Sandra Nagy, the OFC Pantry was re-established.
All four women agreed that in the beginning, there were just a handful of recipients. A total of 58 people were served in the first few months. Just over six months later the group has serviced close to 500 people.
The pantry is funded solely through donations by church members and fundraising efforts by the core four who manage it.
Recently, the group submitted a request for a donation to the Oakdale Police Officers Association. To date the OPOA members have responded favorably and intend to donate enough money to carry the Pantry for a couple of months of service.
“This is something that really helps the people within our town,” Oakdale Police Officer Joe Perriera said of the donation.
While the OFC Public Food Pantry does operate under 501(c) non-profit status, it does not accept any grants or government assistance. Remaining independent of government provides them the ability to target a large group of persons who might be in need of assistance.
The women indicated that unlike other community pantries, they do not have income limits and provide each recipient with one bag of groceries per month.
“There are so many people that are just getting by,” Gonzales said. “Families that have gone down to one income, but don’t qualify for a lot of programs.
“We have quite a large population of senior citizens,” Gonzales added of the recipients.
“Probably about 40 percent of the recipients are seniors,” Nagy confirmed.
Each of the women noted there a number of things, which enrich their lives as members of the church, as well as the Public Food Pantry.
“When they leave here, to see the smiles on their faces … that is really rewarding,” Jorgensen said.
“I didn’t think it would get as big as it did, as fast as it did.”
For Nagy, a Copperopolis resident, the Pantry has offered valuable lessons for her children as well.
“We don’t have anything like this in Copperopolis,” she said. “It’s good for my kids to see it’s okay to ask for help and to take help when you need it.”
Financial donations to support the OFC Public Food Pantry may be sent to the Oakdale Family Church of the Nazarene, attn: OFC Pantry, 1700 West F St., Oakdale. For additional information, to volunteer of make a donation, call 847-4215.