Socorro Storehouse Food Pantry is the only emergency food pantry located in the county. Founded in 2002 at San Miguel church before expanding to a separate facility off of California road in 2004, the SSFP work with the Salvation Army sponsored day shelter Safe Harbor to help provide food for those in need. Melissa Ramsey is a head volunteer and has been working with the organization for years. She welcomed El Defensor Chieftain in the same way the staff welcomes all visitors.
Question: How did you get involved with Socorro Storehouse?
Answer: My church was one of the founding members of this program. Our youth group at San Miguel helped to get things going from the beginning and later on I decided I wanted to become a volunteer.
Q: How is this facility funded?
A: The city rents the building out to us for one dollar per year and also takes care of utility payments. It allows us to help other people.
Q: What about this type of work draws you towards volunteering to help strangers?
A: I think in a lot of ways it’s a calling. And I don’t mean that in a church sense. You try different things when you want to give back and a lot of them just aren’t the right fit. Getting people fed clicked with me. Working here you meet new people and see different lifestyles in both those walking through the door as well as other volunteers. There’s a lot of friends you can make at a place like this.
Q: How many volunteers are on hand in a given day?
A: On Thursday’s we have between 10-14. On Tuesday’s we have between 4-5. Every first and third Tuesday of the month we have a crew from Roadrunner Foodbank come in to unload the truck to prep donations for the Thursday crew. Produce and other items are separated for the noon crowd coming in.
Q: What level of importance does a program such as this bring to a community like Socorro?
A: Huge. We’re seeing a lot more families needing help in the recent past. Jobs are sometimes few and far between. Citizens in the community can attest to several people moving away due to the lack of job accessibility. We’ve grown to over 500 clients we help supplement in times of need. Not all come in every month but sometimes they need that extra support.
Q: Is there any type of religious requirement for a person walking into your doors? Do they have to believe in Christian philosophies?
A: Not at all. We welcome anyone needing aide. If they want to explore prayer with what our volunteers believe in they are welcome to. But by no means is there any type of religious requirements in helping people.
Q: How is it decided what the cut off level is for those that come in as it regards to income?
A: Our guide lines start with a one person household. If they make less than $1,872 per month according to the government funded Food Assistance Program. If they do not qualify for that they can register with our own emergency food services program here in Socorro County that will supply an individual with four boxes per year.
Q: What types of steps do you take to regulate that the donated food is safe?
A: We go through it all. You have to. Whether it’s an egg that got cracked open or a can good that exploded you have to make sure that what we’re giving away is safe to eat. If not it is thrown away. There are a few items that can be given to pigs or chickens for volunteers here if they would like to take them.
Q: Do you have clients that have come in and abuse the donations?
A: Oh yeah, plenty. We’ve had people come in then turn around and sell the food. Some get in line claiming they need help when they don’t. People have received diapers and sold them for cigarettes. Once we catch them we cut them off and tell them to go to a different facility.
Q: A few random questions. Were you born and raised in Socorro?
A: I was born in a little town in Texas called Mineola then raised in Fruitvale, Texas. My husband Brett was in the navy and finished his service in San Diego. He wanted to move to Colorado and I wanted Texas so we met in the middle and came here in 1998.
Q: What is your favorite movie?
A: Well I’m a big Star Trek fan. I wouldn’t say I’m a ‘Trekkie’ and don’t know the whole cannon. However I’m also a romantic so I would have to go with the ‘Princess Diaries’. Those movies are fun and bring out the kid in me.
Q: What is your favorite type of music?
A: I mainly listen to Christian music. I also love the stuff from the 80’s which is when I grew up. My volunteers are gonna laugh at me about this but I love Devo, Quiet Riot, Whitesnake, Journey. The big ballads were always great.
Q: If you could live anywhere in the world other than Socorro, where would it be?
A: I would have to say Ireland. The greenery of the country. Even the old Irish Spring soap commercials inspired me when I was a kid. Something about that place speaks to me and hopefully I can visit there one day.
Q: If there was something you could change about Socorro, what would it be?
A: How the drug problems are handled. It has gotten so bad here, especially with the opioids. What we need is people from all walks of life to get together and say that enough is enough. It breaks my heart to see the lives that are ruined. The more addicted people become the less time they have to help raise their children. Kids need to feel that they are loved at home and if we don’t do something about that then what good is your community?
The motto of the SSFP is “Feeding the Hungry, One Box at a Time”. For more information on how to volunteer or if you are a person in need visit their office at 519 Old Highway 59, Socorro.