By Scott Prater
Signaling that Schriever’s transition to a community-based installation has hit full stride, the base now has its own food pantry, thanks to the Schriever First Sergeant’s Council.
Discussions to start up the program began soon after Master Sgt. William Thomas, 50th Security Forces Squadron, arrived here late last year.
“Up to this point we’ve coordinated with the Peterson AFB First Sergeants to operate the food pantry there, but with the new housing area and with more families actually residing on the installation, we sensed a need to establish our own footprint,” Sergeant Thomas said. “We don’t have a commissary or a large shopette, so we know there are limitations for families.”
Citing a high permanent-change-of-station rate and the milder climate of summer time, the council agreed that June would be the optimal time to open the food pantry.
“We thought that if we were able to do this now then we could start providing supplies for families in need and start to build a surplus of items for the holiday season,” Sergeant Thomas said.
Master Sgt. Genevieve Sills, Space Innovation and Development Center first sergeant, managed to procure a site for the pantry in the Tierra Vista Community Center building.
“After originally thinking we could use space inside of a unit, we decided it would be better to locate the pantry outside the restricted area,” Sergeant Sills said. “We wanted it to be accessible to Airmen, families, civilians, everyone, and it needs to be in an inconspicuous area so that people feel comfortable getting what they need. I approached Devon Forhan at the Tierra Vista Community Center and she was very accommodating. She told us they had a space that would work perfectly.”
Once the physical site had been established the first sergeants leaped into action, initiating a food drive to begin filling the space.
“We’ll be handling donations within our units,” Sergeant Thomas said. “Individuals who just can’t seem to make ends meet are able to reach out to their first sergeant to receive the supplies they need. Of course, the conversations and interaction will be anonymous and confidential. To this point, every first sergeant has put information out to their unit and the group.”
The process remains fluid by design. Each first sergeant on base will have access to the food pantry and all are free to manage the program in their units as they see fit.
Sergeants Sills and Thomas both spoke about how establishing the food pantry fits well into the role of first sergeant.
“As first sergeants, our motto is ‘people are my business,’” Sergeant Sills said. “One reason I was motivated to help with this cause is I’ve had Airmen come to me and talk about how tough it is to keep food on the table all of the time. Then I learned people had to drive to Peterson to visit a food pantry. I really felt we needed to do something to help our Airmen.”
Pantry organizers are requesting a wide variety of foods, from pastas, tuna, canned vegetables baby food and anything nonperishable. Food drives will takes place intermittently as the need arises. As we get closer to the holiday season, Sergeant Thomas said they’ll be looking for side dishes that typically go along with traditional holiday meals, like potatoes, rolls and canned vegetables.