Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Storehouse Moving Forward

The Storehouse, an agency that has served the local low-income community with food and other supplies, made the national news in 2005. In an article for In These Times magazine, entitled "The Cruelest Cuts," Santa Fe-based author Mark Winne wrote about how proposed cuts in food stamps and other federal nutrition programs would greatly increase the need for families to resort to an already overextended agency like The Storehouse.  

For generations, The Storehouse has been a lifeline for many local families. So reports earlier this year that the agency was facing financial problems and a very uncertain future, created  significant concerns in  this community. Fortunately, a solution was found in May of this year, when the Adelante Development Center agreed to take over management of the operation.  The move was a success. While not yet out of the woods, The Storehouse seems to be in a recovery mode, thanks to the efforts of Krista Kelley and other members of the Adelante & The Storehouse staffs.   I reprinted a  couple of articles (including tbe accompanying photographs)  from a recent newsletter from The Storehouse, which offer more details about the transition and a positive outlook for the operation.  (A third article, about founder Titus Scholl will be reprinted later).

The Storehouse has undergone quite a few changes over the past few months. Fortunately that change has brought growth and stability, and possibly kept us from shutting our doors for good. With timely assistance from Adelante Development Center, there is very real hope now that the organization can continue its vital mission.

“The relationship with Adelante has been remarkable," said Storehouse board chairJennifer James."The support they have given us has been lifesaving. We are thankful every day for all they have done and continue to do in helping us achieve our core mission in feeding New Mexico’s hungry.”

While The Storehouse still needs more public support, efforts to restore The Storehouse to a viable long-term organization have made measurable progress since April, said Krista Kelley, vice president of development at Adelante.

“The immediate prospect of closing down is no longer such a threat, but The Storehouse is not out of danger yet. Adelante is working to diversify revenue streams as well as community programming, but we are still very much in need of public support before we can consider the agency on solid ground for the long term. In the meantime, we are finding ways to carry out our mission more efficiently.” The Storehouse is once again on the right track, and steadily becoming better equipped to handle growing numbers of hungry New Mexicans.

Even so, our state leads the country in food insecurity, and we are ranked second in the nation for poverty. How much worse would it have been for Albuquerque if The Storehouse had not been there for the past 38 years attacking hunger on the front lines? The organization now supports over 71,000 people in and around Albuquerque with the food and support they need to make life work. But more can be done, and with the help of our very generous donors and volunteers, it will be.

Hunger knows few boundaries, and with The Storehouse regaining its strength as an organization, fewer New Mexicans fight a losing battle. There is still reason for hope.

Adelante Development Center Lends a Helping Hand
Incorporated in 1976, The Storehouse has been a pillar of the community in Albuquerque for 38 years, and now supports over 71,000 people with food on a regular basis. But in late 2012, New Mexico’s largest food pantry began to suffer when funding began to decrease due to a downturn in the economy.

Over the course of the following year, the organization experienced a “double whammy”, as hunger and poverty in New Mexico rose to new highs and greater demands were placed on The Storehouse’s already dwindling budget for operations.

According to Jennifer James, Board Chair for The Storehouse, “Just running the pantry, and getting the food and provisions to people in need takes a lot of time and effort. When donations started to dry up, our budget started to atrophy very quickly. Eventually we were looking at shutting down, which would have been catastrophic for so many in and around Albuquerque.”

By early 2014, The Storehouse board had approached Adelante with the prospect of working together to keep such a vital, life-saving organization from shutting its doors. By April, a management agreement had been finalized – Adelante would provide immediate operational, administrative and developmental support, and would ultimately manage the entire operation.

In May, Adelante organized a press conference to announce the new management structure to the general public, with an appeal for donations at a time when The Storehouse had only a few weeks of operational funding remaining. “It’s critical that The Storehouse remain in the community,” said Mike Kivitz, CEO of Adelante. “Our community would not be the same without The Storehouse, and it was a natural for Adelante to step in because The Storehouse is also a source of food, work and and volunteerism for the people with disabilities that we serve.”

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