TARA free food pantry established and growing in Arboles

Photos courtesy Susan Gibson
The nonprofit TARA Community Center in Arboles started a free food pantry in January of this year to serve senior citizens, low-income families and other households needing supplementary foods in the Arboles/Allison/Tiffany communities. The pantry is now receiving donations from both Pagosa Springs and Durango, allowing it to continue meeting the needs of its community during the pandemic.

By Susan Gibson
Special to The PREVIEW
The nonprofit TARA Community Center in Arboles started a free food pantry of dry and canned goods in January of this year, servicing senior citizens, low-income families and other households needing supplementary foods in the Arboles/Allison/Tiffany communities. It has grown exponentially every month since then. But, with the COVID-19 crisis, the three-day-a-week access to the food pantry is not now available, as the TARA Center building is currently closed until further notice, per the COVID-19 guidelines.
“So, Pine River Shares, out of Bayfield, stepped up and offered fresh food for a drive-through COVID-directive safe distance distribution in the parking lot of TARA,” said TARA Food Coordinator Susan Halkin. “Saturday, March 28, was the first drive-through and we were so pleased with the number of cars and people coming through. That success has now led to so much generosity, as we are now getting fresh food contributions from food banks, food coalitions and food drives in both Pagosa Springs and Durango, as well as a ton of donations from our local Arboles community, so are going to try doing this weekly for as long as we can.”
The drive-through distribution is conducted at the TARA Community Center parking lot on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to noon, though those hours may be expanded.
“People can now request canned and dry goods from our inventory list when they come through for the fresh food on Saturdays and we will have them available for pickup or delivery later in the week,” said Halkin.
Fresh food, dry goods and canned goods are welcome from anyone who would like to give. Just contact Halkin at 883-0017 or email her at halkin2000@yahoo.com.
The TARA Community Center is a nonprofit formed in 1993 as the TARA Historical Society at Navajo Lake. Its mission statement is “to preserve the culture and history of this unique multi-ethnic TARA community, to establish a dynamic facility to gather and share ideas and information and to create a sense of community for all residents of the TARA area.”
TARA is an acronym for Tiffany, Allison, Rosa and Arboles — the four communities affected by the Navajo Dam/Lake project of the late ‘50s and ‘60s.
The center, during non-health-crisis times, serves weekly senior lunches and supports seasonal community special events, including an annual Easter egg hunt at the Navajo Lake park, a Fourth of July parade, a chili cook-off and silent auction, and Christmas in Arboles, as well as hosting other gatherings.
The lower level of the center has the TARA Food Pantry, a library, a “bargain corner” of household goods and clothing, and a children’s library and play area. The TARA Historical Society is also found in the lower level and is currently hard at work creating a historic museum of documents, pictures, maps and personal interviews with long-time Arboles area residents.
The outside grounds at TARA include a large playground, basketball/tennis court and covered pavilion for outdoor eating and entertainment.
Further expansion plans are to refurbish a donated historical bunkhouse into a community thrift store and local artisan outlet for crafts and jewelry.
TARA Community Center is located at 333 Milton Lane in Arboles.

This story was posted on April 13, 2020.