Christian Center thankful for Whole Foods gift | ParkRecord.com

Christian Center thankful for Whole Foods gift

Debra LaBelle, Whole Foods marketing team leader, and Whole Foods Manager Tyler Lay stand outside the Park City store that raised nearly $23,000 for the Christian Center of Park City through the Feed 4 More program over the holidays. (Jake Shane/Park Record)

The Christian Center of Park City’s mission to help improve the lives of the people living in Summit and Wasatch counties by providing basic needs got a boost last week with a gift from the Park City Whole Foods grocery store.

Whole Foods donated $22,821 through the Feed 4 More program, which took place during the holiday season last year, according to Debra LaBelle, Whole Foods metro marketing team leader.

"Feed 4 More has been a program within Whole Foods for many years and the idea is to feed the families in our community by giving our customers opportunities to donate during the holiday season," LaBelle said during an interview with The Park Record. "While we do donate to different organizations in Utah, the Park City store has enjoyed a long-lasting partnership with the Christian Center."

The money was raised through Whole Foods registers.

"We asked customers to donate and while they could donate any amount they wanted to, we also had it set up for $5, $10 and $20 increments as well," LaBelle said.

Raising money to help local charity organizations is nothing new to the Whole Foods business model, according to LaBelle.

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"This is a part of Whole Foods’ mission and values to donate to communities where there are stores since it was founded in 1978," she said. "It’s a key part of our organization and structure."

LaBelle said the Christian Center is an important resource for the Wasatch Back.

"They have a lot of programs for people who live in Park City who need assistance," she said. "Their food pantries are wonderful, and they also have the boutique and thrift store."

Christian Center of Park City Executive Director Rob Harter is grateful to Whole Foods for the donation.

"It’s a tremendous gift for us because cash helps us cover our costs to operate our food pantries in Park City and Heber," Harter said. "It takes money to run them from staff, utilities and gas and maintenance for our trucks that not only pick up food from donations, but also drive out to our distribution points."

Last year, the Christian Center, a nonprofit organization, served 48,739 individuals, or more than 14,000 households.

"We’re really a regional food pantry now that we distribute food in Summit and Wasatch counties as well as Salt Lake City, Wendover and the Goshute reservation in Ibapah," Harter said.

The Christian Center also delivers food to senior centers and helps veterans with their nutrition needs as well.

"With the seniors specifically, we made contact with the centers here in Park City, in Heber, and Coalville," Harter said. "As far as the veterans were concerned, many of them heard about the food pantry through word of mouth. Sadly, a lot of veterans live at a low-income level and we made a concerted effort to make sure they know we can provide whatever they need."

Harter is also grateful for the community members who donated to Feed 4 More program.

"There are a lot of people who shop at Whole Foods and some have no idea where the money goes when they participate in the program," he said. "It goes right here and we get to see it."

In addition to a human food pantry, the Christian Center also has a pet food pantry.

"We started our pet food pantry a little while ago with the help of Julie Hooker’s Leadership Class at Treasure Mountain [Junior High School]," Harter said. "Sometimes the only source of companionship for seniors and veterans are their pets. If they can’t afford to keep their pets, they lose their companions. So, we help to make sure we have food for the pets as well as other supplies."

In addition to the monetary gift, Harter is thankful to Whole Foods for its participation in the Utah Food Bank’s Grocery Rescue Program, which is part of a national program called Feeding America.

"We have been picking up food from Whole Foods that goes directly to our food pantry through that program," Harter said. "This is food that has nearly reached its expiration date or food that the market has too much of. And the expiration date doesn’t mean the food is bad. It’s all a consumer tactic to sell more food.

"If the Christian Center didn’t pick up the food every day, the food would be thrown away," he said. "So this is another way we can help people in need."

For more information about the Christian Center of Park City and its food pantries, visit http://www.ccofpc.org. For more information about Whole Foods in Park City, visit http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/parkcity.

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