What started in 1986 as a small emergency food pantry operating out of a Weed thrift store is now an organization that has helped thousands of people get access to their next meal.

What started in 1986 as a small emergency food pantry operating out of a Weed thrift store is now an organization that has helped thousands of people get access to their next meal.

Last month, Siskiyou Food Assistance Corporation moved from the New Life Thrift Store to Room F in the Great Northern building at 780 S. Davis Street in Weed.

The new space is large and has room for both an industrial-sized freezer and refrigerator, which were previously donated by the Ford Family Foundation. There's plenty of shelving and a large island that provides plenty of space for sorting donations.

Siskiyou Food Assistance's previous location was small and difficult to work in, said pantry manager Denise Spayd.

With no sink, it was difficult to process donations. "We couldn't do fresh produce at all," said Spayd.

Since Siskiyou Food Assistance relocated, they've helped an average of 65 families per week get access to nutritious meals, said executive director Denise Broomfield, who founded the pantry with her late husband, Jerry. She's hoping that number will rise when people get used to their new location and shorter hours.

Previously open four days a week, the pantry is now open only on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Food distribution process

The process by which food is distributed was explained by Spayd and Broomfield during an open house last Wednesday at the new location.

When a person comes to the pantry, they are required to provide a photo ID and to fill out an intake form, which confirms they fall within the income guidelines for service.

Broomfield said those with income up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level – based on the size of their family – qualify for assistance, but they have never turned anyone away.

Those who live in the Siskiyou Food Assistance Corporation service area may utilize the food pantry six times a year, receiving three days worth of food each visit.

There is also a one-time service for transients.

The service area includes the towns of Weed, Edgewood, Lake Shastina, Gazelle, Big Springs and Mount Shasta.

Spayd said an effort is made to provide meals that are as balanced as possible with the food and fresh produce available.

The pantry gratefully accepts surplus harvests from local gardeners, fresh eggs, shelf stable foods and monetary donations.

Siskiyou Food Assistance receives a monthly grant of $375 from the Modoc Siskiyou Community Action Agency to purchase food. But they spend about $500 per month on groceries, according to Spayd.

"It seems like donations come right when we need them," said Spayd. "We are a Christian organization, and we believe God must be watching out for us, because it can't be a coincidence these donations come when they do."

SFAC's largest fundraiser of the year is the Thanksgiving day Run For Food that was started in 2011. The event is a 5k run/walk at the College of the Siskiyous campus in Weed. Last year, it raised $4,500, Spayd said, and they are hoping for an even bigger turnout this year.

Deal with Great Northern

When the New Life Thrift Store closed earlier this year, SFAC had to find a new location, Spayd said.

After hearing about their plight, Great Northern offered to donate space in exchange for some help with utility costs. Siskiyou Food Assistance also agreed to assume Great Northern's emergency food distribution program.

Great Northern still runs the federal commodities program, which distributes food on a regular schedule through the USDA, said Broomfield, SFAC's only paid employee. She makes $100 a month. The rest of the non-profit is run entirely by volunteers, guided by a board of directors.

Broomfield said she plans to retire in December but leaves the organization in good hands. "We have wonderful board members that are interested in taking the program further. They want to see it flourish."

To donate

Those interested in donating food or surplus harvests can call Spayd at (530) 408-6115 and she will arrange a time to meet.

Monetary donations can be made through Paypal at their website, www.siskiyoufoodassistance.org