Guardian Angels Food Pantry Serves Westport

Guardian Angels food pantry regularly serves over 100 people. Iulia-Anca Istrate, pictured, manages the pantry as the parish emergency assistance coordinator. (Megan Marley/Key photo)

By Megan Marley

In 1981, the population of Guardian Angels parish was in transition: with the new Southwest Trafficway built, more persons were moving to the area and sending their kids to the parish school who needed a little help with the groceries. So Guardian Angels food pantry was born.

“Word got out in this neighborhood that we had a pantry,” explained Deacon Tyrone Gutierrez, OSF, parish administrator, “and so we had two separate sections: one for if you came in off the street, and one if you had children in the school.” He said the parish at one time also had a credit union, and food voucher system for the gas station next door. In 2000, it was combined into one pantry, and has been growing ever since then to serve families and the homeless in Westport and Roanoke.

Over 100 people regularly benefit from the food pantry, as well as several walk-in clients.

“We have 40 of what we call our ‘regular’ families, those who come to us continually monthly. There are also a number of 10-20 people who just stop by and are in need of food at one moment in time,” said Iulia-Anca Istrate, emergency assistance coordinator at Guardian Angels who manages the pantry.

“We provide canned goods, some frozen meats, and weekly we have, to offer them, bread and sweets.”

Around the holidays, the pantry also tries to stock holiday foods and gifts.

“For Thanksgiving we give them a whole turkey dinner, the turkey and the fixings, and for Christmas we get them gifts,” Deacon Gutierrez said. “This Easter we want to start giving them an Easter dinner.”

A recipient of a diocesan parish ministry grant, Guardian Angels food pantry also gets food from Harvesters and contributions from local community partners such as SunFresh. Parishioners also give quite a bit throughout the year.

“We’re very fortunate that our parishioners do give a lot every week. We instituted a plan about 15 years ago where they sign up and make a pledge for the year to bring one or two items a month,” said Deacon Gutierrez. “Rather than look at the bulletin and see what they need this week, they sign up to bring, say, stuffing for a whole year.”

Gutierrez said Guardian Angels food pantry is currently working with Harvesters on a business plan to improve client options and experience, possibly including fresh items like produce, and adding new shelving, freezers and a waiting area. Istrate is the one directly working with Harvesters.

“First was the assessment of the present state, and in this phase we included all the ideas that we have for the future. Now we are in the process of, narrowing to the point where we’ll be able to assess what will be the best option for us in the future,” Istrate explained.

For more information or to donate, contact Guardian Angel food pantry’s emergency assistance coordinator at the parish office at (816) 931-4351, ext. 112.

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Monday
December 18, 2017
Newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph