Profile: The Salt Mine
One of the most important services in Lincoln is the Salt Mine food closet (Vine Life Ministries aka the Salt Mine). With many folks newly out of work, it is paramount that families and those in need have access to food! Lincoln Community Foundation has offered two grants to Salt Mine in 2020 thus far to help them meet those food needs in our community.
We recently spoke with Blake Long, administrator and treasurer of Salt Mine, who was so gracious in giving us some background about the organization.
“We are a food closet, which is different than a food bank. In Placer County, we have the main Placer County food bank which services all the smaller food pantries in the county. We are more boots on the ground and the food bank is more of a distributor or warehouse. They work with the government, USDA and they secure foods on that level. We don’t have to deal with that, we just get to give it out!
“The Salt Mine has been here in Lincoln for a long time. It started 35 years ago, primarily as a youth center. We transitioned 30 years ago into a food closet because there was nothing like that in the area. And we’ve grown since, opening it up to anyone who needs food within the Western Placer Unified School District.
“We exist because of the gracious support of our community, including Lincoln Community Foundation, Lincoln Hills Foundation, Rotary Club, Kawanis Club, Placer Community Foundation, Lions Club and more. All of these organizations advocated for us, helped us get grants and stay operational.
“We did not shut down during the Covid crisis, rather, we adapted. We saw about 10 times the amount of need in this area. The biggest increase we saw was with families with young children. And that figure makes a lot of sense, considering all that’s happening within this pandemic. Parents were laid off, kids are at home, no school lunches, etc. Unfortunately other food closets in this area had to shut down (Meals on Wheels and Senior’s First are still open).
“We had to change our system a little bit in order to adapt to social distancing. Now we’re 100% drive through and touch free. We’ve done all the right things to make sure everyone is safe. You don’t even have to roll your window down – we do everything digitally with an iPad through the window, just open your trunk and we’ll place the food inside!
“For us, this streamlining was a good thing. We believe very much in agility and moving forward, adapting to the times. We did a drive-through Thanksgiving giveaway.
“The recent grants we received by the Lincoln Community Foundation helped us immensely. The initial $25,000 allowed us to basically just stay open. Our thrift shop normally provides for our overhead, but that had to be closed for a while. This newer grant of $10,000 allowed us to purchase all the food for the Thanksgiving and Christmas giveaways (about $7,000 worth of food!) and pay a little bit of rent. We bought staple items for Thanksgiving with those funds – items such as flour, sugar, other baking items, single-serve packets of rice, roll mix, etc. – to help people stretch out their food budget .
“We’re so proud that you guys were able to help us with that! That money went far to make our boxes robust and feed a lot of families this holiday season. The supply chain has been broken for a while, so staple items are very important for folks. The big picture is that people are having to stay home and cook more, they’re having to feed their children lunch at home, so access to food is crucial.”
For more information, please visit https://www.thesaltmine.org/