LEAVENWORTH, Kan. -- One of the largest food pantries in Leavenworth County is on the verge of shutting down.
The Leavenworth Mission Community Store and Food Pantry serves more than 550 homeless or low-income families every month. The nonprofit was founded by the Arnold family in 2010.
“It was sort of a vision that my mom had,” said Renissa Arnold, the daughter of founder Iris Arnold. “It really was her opportunity to give back to her community.”
The roof on the organization’s building, located at 1140 Spruce Street in Leavenworth, already had some damage when it was donated to them nine years ago. But it’s gotten so bad that the nonprofit may have to close the pantry.
“Our roof has always sort of been deteriorating bit by bit,” Arnold said. “Due to the limited space we have, because our is roof falling in, we’re unable to do what we typically do.”
Right now, there’s 3,000 square feet of space not being used after storms last week made matters worse and water came pouring in, forcing the pantry to close for a week.
“When we posted the message online, it was painful to hear the responses like, ‘How am I going to get food now?’ or ‘What am I going to do for this month,'” Arnold said.
Leaders with Leavenworth Mission have been trying to get a company to fix the concrete roof over the pantry for a while, but they haven’t had much luck.
“We’ve had over 25 different roofing companies that have come in or we’ve been in contact with them, and it’s either been not returning phone calls or they will give an overestimate,” Arnold explained.
Leaders said if they don’t find a solution quick, the food pantry could close due inadequate space.
It would be devastating to people like Tamera Langston and Herman Hicks, who are regulars at the pantry.
“It’s just a blessing, and I would just hate to see it go because it helps a lot of homeless families, families with families, helps single people,” Langston said. “They treat you good here.”
“I would have had a harder time because just before getting my disability. I had no place to go,” Hicks added.
Hicks is a Vietnam veteran who once found himself homeless after abusing drugs and alcohol. He said Leavenworth Mission has kept him on the straight and narrow.
“This has been a safe place and a good place,” he said. “I don’t know what I would do if it closed down. It’s like closing down a grocery store in the neighborhood you used to shop at.”
The store portion of the Leavenworth Mission remains open.
Leaders are hosting a fish fry fundraiser this Friday at the store from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can also make a monetary donation by clicking here. Donations are tax deductible.