Land of Goshen Ministries hosts silent auction

A. Marie Hamilton/Lingle Guide Eli Case, 9, donates his prized American Berkshire hog from this summer’s Wyoming State Fair to Goshen County Senior Friendship Center and Land of Goshen Ministry.

TORRINGTON – The 30-year-old county staple, Land of Goshen Ministries (LOGM), continues to live up to its namesake and commitment to Goshen County residents; the nonprofit is hosting an on-site vintage silent auction, is preparing to hand out holiday food boxes, has a new Facebook page and has a new look inside its store; however, they are still in need of volunteers.

LOGM Board President David Kendall said, “We’ve had a lot of wonderful community support – both financially and with donations for our food pantry as well as the thrift store – however, we are always looking for volunteers and continued donations to be able to continue to serve our community.”

Now in its 30th year of operation, LOGM praises its current volunteers. “We are always in the market and need to add additional volunteers because we are a 100% volunteer organization, and we serve roughly 100 families each month,” Kendall said.

The nonprofit currently serves between 80 to 100 Goshen County families monthly from its own food pantry, however, the organization no longer offers the government provided food commodity boxes, so it relies heavily on both volunteers, financial and food and/or thrift store donations.

Currently, in its monthly food boxes, which are available during the third week of the month, the organization includes: spaghetti and sauce; canned vegetables; canned fruit; cereal; soup; eggs; bread; peanut butter; tuna; macaroni and cheese or some other pasta; and an assortment of meat which is usually donated or purchased at discounted prices. Currently, the pantry is stocked with beef from a number of donations.

For a brief time, the boxes will also include potatoes from the second annual potato harvest at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center (SAREC) in Lingle. 

“The potato harvest is a partnership between two University of Wyoming Extension programs, SAREC and the Cent$ible Nutrition Program (CNP), along with Food Bank of Wyoming,” UW SAREC Spokeswoman Brooke Ortel explained. “The goal is to provide Wyoming-grown produce to families facing food insecurity.”

See a previous Lingle Guide story for more information about the SAREC potato harvest.

In an effort to continue to provide for families in need, LOGM is hosting an on-site vintage items silent auction at its newly updated store/pantry, 801 W. Valley Road, Torrington; while most items are vintage, there are a few non-vintage items, such as a new pressure cooker.

LOGM said the silent auction was the brainchild of one of its volunteers to help the ministry further help families amid rising inflation and higher grocery prices.

“The current silent auction is a concept one of our volunteers thought up – which will go a long way in helping our community due to grocery prices being up and continuing to be driven up because of current inflation,” Kendall told the Guide.

LOGM Executive Director Judy Chaffin and Kendall explained how the organization has been conscious about buying local for its food pantry from Main Street Market and occasionally from Fresh Foods; profits from its thrift shop go to restock its food pantry.

There are three freezers and one large refrigerator to hold the food at proper temperatures, but the nonprofit advises that all frozen foods need to be frozen when coming in for donations or they cannot accept.

The nonprofit said it’s important to support the local community that continues to support the ministry and its efforts to support families in need.

Kendall said the nonprofit has a new Facebook page called ‘Land of Goshen Thrift Store’ because the organization is unable to access its former account and advises residents to visit its new page for current information.

As the nonprofit gears up to start handing out holiday food boxes, it also recently reorganized its thrift store. In addition to hosting the silent auction of vintage items in its store, LOGM Thrift Shop is also getting into the holiday spirit with Halloween and Christmas decor, clothing and miscellaneous items.

Starting the week of November 14, LOGM will begin handing out its Thanksgiving food boxes to local families in need. However, the organization said it still needs and is accepting food donations to make at least 100 Thanksgiving meals, including larger turkeys for large families.

LOGM will announce more information regarding its holiday food box as it gets closer to Thanksgiving.

However, LOGM said a majority of its meat supplies, fresh fruits and vegetables have come from local producers lately at discounted prices or as donations.

Some producers who have donated to LOGM came from some of the county’s youngest residents. 

Recently, Eli Case, 9, donated his prize 4-H market hog to both LOGM and Goshen County Senior Friendship Center.

Earlier this summer, Eli participated in the First Lady of Wyoming Jennie Gordon’s 4-H Wyoming Hunger Initiative Fair to Fork program where he garnered recognition from the First Lady and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon during the Wyoming State Fair.

Chubs, Eli’s 8-month-old American Berkshire hog, which was presented at the State fair, was donated to the local nonprofits.

Torrington parents Paul and Beth Case, who described herself as Eli’s “bonus mom”, said, “We are very proud about where he chose to donate the meat – we gave him some choices to choose from, and he chose the Friendship Center here in Torrington.”

When asked why he chose the Friendship Center, Eli said, “I wanted to give meat to people who don’t have meat or much food, and when I thought about it – I knew it was the older people like the grandmas and grandpas we love.”

“Eli attends Lincoln Heights Elementary in Scottsbluff and just completed his first year in 4-H,” Beth said. “Eli has also participated in other market swine projects, such as breeding swine, market beef, woodworking, welding, as well as food and nutrition projects.”

When asked what the most memorable part was of participating in this project, Eli said, “getting to help raise Chubs – he is a black and white American Berkshire – but it’s a lot of hard work and I wanted to show all kids that even us kids can help.”

“I want to say thank you for supporting us kids in 4-H and the Fair to Fork program because we can feed more people in our community,” Eli added.

Eli showcased a total of five pigs at this year’s fair, one of which was the grand champion boar, he also had a reserve grand gilt, placed middle of the class for market and placed sixth in showmanship.

Eli said the best part about living on a farm and helping to raise animals is “we get to eat them – and we get to ride on a four-wheeler!”

Like the SAREC program, the Farm to Fork program is also part of a University of Wyoming Extension program of which Goshen County residents, young and old, participate in.

First Lady Gordon’s Wyoming Hunger Initiative is a partnership with Wyoming 4-H and FFA, which officially launched at the Wyoming State Fair.

The program purchases one hog from each Wyoming county through a lottery selection to support youth development.

“Being a producer myself, my initial vision for the Wyoming Hunger Initiative was to encompass a component of agriculture that would be part of the solution to food insecurity in our state,” Jennie Gordon said in a press release. “I am beyond excited to bring youth into the equation as they have a heart for agriculture and for giving back to their communities.”

According to Gordon, the ultimate goal for this program, and many others like it, is to utilize Wyoming producers and products to help combat food insecurity in the state at local levels.

Currently, Eli is helping to raise another 3-year-old American Berkshire named “Big boy”, that he hopes will make more pigs and eventually “get to eat him, some bacon and other meats.”

When asked what he wanted to be when he grows up, Eli said, “a farmer, like my dad, but I want to continue to help people with food also.”

Eli’s dad, Paul said, “I would like to encourage other families and kids to get involved for next year and to know that any contribution they can make goes a long way in helping our local community.”

“I’m very proud of Eli and his work in this program, I am really looking forward to seeing what he does next year – but mostly, I’m proud that on his own he made the decision to donate his hog to the Friendship Center.” Paul Case added.

“Eli made me teary eyed and so proud because of his generosity and heart. I couldn’t be any prouder of him and his desire to help the elderly and those who are struggling to put food on the table,” Beth Case added.

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