Gallatin Community Service Center opened its doors in 1997 as a food pantry. Since its establishment, the center has expanded and is now the primary food bank for Daviess County Missouri.
Connected to the Gallatin Church, the center’s food bank serves 200 individuals in Daviess County, which, as of 2019, has a population of 8,278, according to census.gov. Of that population, about 17.6 percent are in poverty, according to census.gov.
Gallatin City Administrator Lance Rains said the food bank benefits the community greatly.
“It is a vital facility in the City of Gallatin,” Rains said. “They provide a wonderful service for those in need.”
The food bank distributes 3,300 pounds of food each month to eligible county residents. The bank receives most of its food from Second Harvest Heartland, “one of the nation’s largest, most efficient and most innovative hunger relief organizations,” according to their website.
Additionally, the center weekly picks up food that is going out of date or has damaged packaging from Walmart. This food typically includes fresh produce, bread and desserts, according to Karen Reed, Gallatin Community Service Center director.
In 2020 the food bank received a grant from the North American Division to help fund the replacement of the food bank’s walk-in refrigerator and freezer. With funds from the NAD, the Iowa-Missouri Conference and Second Harvest Heartland, the center was able to afford the $29,000 units, according to Reed.
Reed said the operation costs for the food bank are $2,000 a month. To help cover the utility costs and other expenses, the center runs a thrift store.
“The thrift shop through the years has paid for this whole place except what we got grants for,” Reed said.
The thrift store is housed in two buildings, the building joined to the church and Bill’s Barn, a standalone building built in 2013 and named after Reed’s late husband. Patrons of the store can find an assortment of goods, including collectables, clothing, home décor, books, games and bedding. All these items are donated to the center and sorted through by volunteers.
Most of the volunteers are non-Adventists who dedicate their time to serve their community. In fact, only two of the volunteers in the store are Adventists: Reed and her niece. Many of the volunteers are Christians and several volunteers are from The Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Many years ago, volunteers from the LDS church began volunteering at the center for 20-month terms. When their term ends, the volunteers are replaced by other LDS members. According to some of these volunteers, they love working in the center.
Reed says none of the volunteers try to evangelism to others but simply try to display the love of Jesus through their actions.
“We love each other,” Reed said. “And we don’t try to preach to each other.”
More recently, participants in a nearby addiction treatment center began volunteering at the community service center. Reed said the community service center does everything they can to help those in the treatment center, including providing them with clothing.
Reed said her volunteers create a loving-family-like atmosphere.
“These people are amazing,” said Reed. “My volunteers are sweet, lovely people.”
Over 10 years ago volunteer Susie Strasser’s husband passed away. Soon after his death she became involved in the thrift store and said she found community.
“They’re my second family,” Strasser said.
Reed hopes the center will continue its service to the Daviess County for many years to come thanks to its patrons, volunteers and God.
“The Lord has blessed this place over and over,” Reed said.