A new 10’ x 20’ building has been placed next to the Corner Scoop in Sonoita to house the community food pantry run by Helping Hands in Sonoita (HHS), a nonprofit organized in July 2023.
As she watched the new building being delivered on Oct. 10, Mary Moran said with excitement, “We’ve gone from a one-door locker to a two-door locker to this building.”
Moran, who helped to establish the original food locker in 2019, credited Corner Scoop owner Dena Ploetz, who now serves as the nonprofit’s president, for the new building.
“It was Dena’s dream to expand the food pantry,” she said. “When I handed her the keys to the shed, her eyes welled up. Her dream came true.”
The purchase of the building was funded by a $5,000 Legacy Foundation of Southern AZ grant, as well as donations from Mr. Shed, SSVEC, local churches, The Corner Scoop, and local wineries and businesses. The pantry, which will be manned by volunteers, will have two freezers filled with meat donated by the Vera Earl Ranch, a refrigerator for perishable items and shelves with nonperishable goods, free to community members. Dan Blevins, Director of HHS, will post his contact information on the building for anyone in need of food when the pantry is not open.
“We are not only addressing food insecurity, but also nourishing the body,” Blevins said. The organization is also renting space in the Coop building on SR82 where they will be running a Wellness center, offering physical fitness and wellness classes. The grand opening of the Center will be taking place Saturday, Oct. 14 from 11 – 4.
The center will also have a room set up as a “free store” with essential items like personal hygiene products, toothbrushes, and seasonally essential items like jackets, which are being collected at the Corner Scoop to give out to families in need in the community.
The first community food locker in Sonoita was opened in 2019 in front of the Sonoita Library. A new locker was later set up at the Sonoita Post Office.
Anyone can use the food pantry, which is set up on an honor system.
“There is a big need for the elderly population here for a food locker,” Moran said. “We see elderly people coming at night to pick up food.”
Ploetz will take food to anyone’s home.
“I want people to call me at the Scoop. I’d be more than happy to deliver food,” she said.
“It’s kind of an emotional day,” Moran observed, as the building was lowered off the trailer it was brought in on.
“We have a lot of people who want to help,” said Ploetz.
Along with the new food pantry, the jacket drive and the opening of the new wellness center, the organization also wants to host a community Thanksgiving dinner at the Sonoita Fairgrounds.
“The food pantry is all about generosity and compassion,” Moran wrote. “Community members taking care of community members.”