By: KayLynn Roberts-McMurray
It’s a hot windy day in Ely, wind gusts are 45 miles an hour, as Pastor Rick Crampton stands outside the First Baptist church located at 701 Ave N. directing traffic for a food distribution.
Cars are lined up down the street, and around the block, a sea of over a hundred cars waiting to receive much needed food.
Crampton explains how the two food distributions he handles  generally serves around 250 people, but that number rose to over 400 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, a number that is equivalent to approximately ten percent of the population in White Pine County.
Although the pastor notes he has seen a slight decline in the past several weeks, he also mentioned several of the residents who were receiving the commodities, were also issued double the amount of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Benefits (SNAP).
First Baptist holds two food distributions, one is a USDA food distribution, and the other is a fresh produce distribution, both  held on different days of the month.  The USDA partners with the Northern Nevada Food bank providing a variety of foods from pears, apples, potatoes, to cookie dough, meat, canned goods and dairy products.
The First Baptist also has a food pantry that is open Monday through Wednesdays from 1pm-3pm.  Crampton notes that the food pantry hasn’t seen too much traffic, but also indicated that there are several other food pantries in the community to help those in need.
Crampton, “you just never what’s going to come in, but we’re so thankful it comes to our community.”  When asked how long the food distribution has been taking place, Crampton noted that the USDA food distribution has been coming for 7 years, and the fresh produce for at least the past 5 years.
Receiving the commodities is easy for those in need. A picture id, local address, and the ability to meet the income requirements outlined is what is needed for the USDA food distribution. Crampton explains that with the recent COVID-19 pandemic, alot of the requirements were suspended, although he believes things will resume back to normal pretty quickly.
A strong volunteer base that is apprised of congregation members, in addition to community members, makes the process smooth.  Roland Taylor is with his mother Cassandra Taylor helping place half gallons of milk, sacks of potatoes and boxes of fruit in the back of vehicles.  This isn’t the first time Roland has helped, and won’t be the last.
Crampton doesn’t like to take any credit for the food distribution, “I couldn’t really do this without the help of all the volunteers, they show up, put the items together, they are a huge part of this process.”
The fresh produce truck arrives approximately thirty minutes before the distribution, and the USDA truck arrives at 7am, and volunteers spend all morning and afternoon until 1pm putting together boxes of food for distribution.
A variety of vehicles pulled up on this particular day waiting for fresh produce.  Some SUV’s full of families, vehicles with new dealer plates on them, other vehicles driven by senior citizens, there is no stereotype of who needs food on this particular day.
“So many senior citizens are on fixed incomes, it’s hard for them to make ends meet, then there’s the working poor….they have minimum wage jobs, we get presented with a need and we feel responsible to meet it.” Crampton explained.