GONZALES — Gonzales Community Presbyterian Church “Una Mesa” Food Pantry has been selected as a California Association of Nonprofits 2020 Nonprofit of the Year by State Sen. Anna Caballero.
The local food pantry is one of more than a hundred nonprofits that is being honored virtually by state senators and assembly members for their contributions to the communities they serve.
Gonzales resident Mayme Kulper started the Una Mesa Food Pantry as a ministry project almost 30 year ago. Throughout the years the program has evolved, and in 2014 the pantry obtained nonprofit status and became an official distribution site for the Food Bank for Monterey County.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the food pantry was serving 65 to 100 families as well as 35 seniors three times each month. This past March the pantry quickly saw the need transition from monthly to weekly distribution, and in May its numbers reflected an increased community need of 417%. As of June, the numbers showed a 350% increase over the previous year.
“Our food pantry volunteers have done an amazing job reaching deeper into the community network to be able to feed all who are in need,” said Sarah Sarmento, food pantry program coordinator. “We are deeply humbled to be recognized as a Nonprofit of the Year by Sen. Caballero.”
The food pantry’s main objective is to provide outreach to the community through the collection and distribution of food to individuals in urgent need. Pantry staff and volunteer teams engage in intense coordination with the City of Gonzales, the food bank, the city’s public works support team and Taylor Farms to provide assistance in ways that extend hospitality and respect residents, their circumstances and needs.
“The pandemic and shelter-in-place orders of the last few months have put nonprofits — usually hidden in plain sight — in the spotlight,” explained Jan Masaoka, CEO of the California Association of Nonprofits. “California Nonprofit of the Year is an opportunity for our elected officials to celebrate the good work they see nonprofits doing in their districts, and for everyone to appreciate the collective impact of nonprofits in our communities.”
The Nonprofit of the Year Award is given annually and includes a traditional celebration luncheon in Sacramento to honor the nonprofits. This year’s luncheon, however, was canceled due to the pandemic.