A $60,000 expansion at Mount Lookout Grange in Mancos will go toward a full commercial kitchen and storage space for the Mancos Food Share.
Crews broke ground last week on the 420-foot expansion, and the footers and foundation were put in place on Monday, said Kathryn Fulton, who is overseeing the project. It is scheduled to be finished by early May, she said.
The Grange and the Food Share intend to work together in the long term to help distribute food to people in need in the Mancos Valley, Fulton said.
“We live in an area of abundance, but often there’s a mismatch with availability of food and distribution to people who should be eating it,” she said.
The money for the project was raised through Durango-based organization Tiospaye. People involved with the group are expected to complete a community project of lasting significance, Fulton said. A group of people from Montezuma and La Plata counties raised $60,000 in cash and in-kind donations through Tiospaye, and they gave the money to the Mancos FoodShare, she said.
The kitchen will be commercially certified, with a larger range, a commercial dishwasher, a three-bay sink, a fire-suppression system and other equipment, Fulton said. It will be available for anyone in the community to rent, she said. People will be able to produce food in the kitchen and sell it, she said.
The new kitchen also will provide a space for educational opportunities through the Grange, Fulton said. The grange is planning classes on how to use produce effectively and how to preserve food, Fulton said.
Mancos Food Share director Gretchen Groenke said the expansion and working relationship with the grange hopefully will allow the Food Share to distribute food and commodities more regularly. The group currently distributes items twice a month at the Mancos United Methodist Church, she said.
With the expansion, the Food Share hopes for more flexibility, Groenke said. She said they are hoping to be open at different times of the day to accommodate people with different work schedules.
Groenke said local food growers donate produce to the Food Share so that fresh food is available to people who need it. Last year, the group partnered with Montezuma School to Farm Project to help build a high tunnel at the Mancos School Garden. In return, School to Farm provided the Food Share with fresh produce during the summer, Groenke said.
She is thankful for all the community support for the Mancos Food Share.
“A huge thank you to the overwhelming generosity of the community for supporting all the community projects we have in the county,” Groenke said. “There’s so much community support, and that really makes things go.”
To lend supplies or manpower to the Mount Lookout Grange expansion effort, call Kathryn Fulton at 799-2953.