Modesto's Inter-Faith Ministries names new executive director

kvaline@modbee.comJanuary 19, 2014 

NA faith cookbook 4

Elizabeth Greenlee-Harrison of Inter-Faith Ministries discusses her cookbook, Change Lives: Faith, Family, Food, at the book's launch Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2013, at Get Fit Inspiration Studio in Modesto, Calif.

NAN AUSTIN — Modesto Bee Buy Photo

— The board of directors of Inter-Faith Ministries of Greater Modesto has picked a new executive director for the nonprofit agency, which provides food and clothing to tens of thousands of people each year.

Elizabeth Greenlee-Harrison – Inter-Faith’s marketing and development coordinator since September – became executive director Friday, replacing Barbara Vallo England, who resigned in December to become a caregiver for a sick family member after leading the nonprofit for three years.

“The board, without question, felt Elizabeth was the right person,” Inter-Faith board President Tom Elrod said, adding board members voted 10-0 for her selection.

Inter-Faith’s food pantry feeds about 40,000 people annually, distributing about 2 million pounds of food. It also operates a clothes closet. It has an annual budget of $3.53 million, with nearly 90 percent of that coming from in-kind donations of food, clothing and other items. It has about a half-dozen full-time and about a half-dozen part-time employees, as well as scores of volunteers.

Greenlee-Harrison, 31, will be paid the same salary as England – $36,000 per year. She said she was humbled by the board’s unanimous vote.

“They are very supportive,” she said, “and I can’t believe I get to do this. This is a dream job. I’m so thrilled. ... I’m a single mom of two children, so this is a life changer for us.”

Greenlee-Harrison is a Stanislaus County native, graduated from Modesto’s Beyer High School and studied English and visual arts at Modesto Junior College. She worked at Turlock Golf and Country Club, primarily in event and restaurant management, before coming to Inter-Faith.

Under England’s tenure, Inter-Faith broadened its reach through a series of programs, such as delivering food to the homebound. Inter-Faith also embarked on helping those it serves improve their health through nutrition education.

Greenlee-Harrison is expected to help Inter-Faith maintain its core programs, such as the food pantry, while continuing to help its clients improve their health.

For instance, Inter-Faith’s next big project will be its “Cooking for Four on Food Stamps” cookbook, which it hopes to hand out to its clients for free starting in May. Greenlee-Harrison said the book will contain recipes, nutrition guidance and information on food budgeting and grocery shopping.

She said it’s much less expensive and much more healthful for families to cook their own meals and eat at home than eating fast food or highly processed food.

The Sacramento-based Teichert Foundation provided Inter-Faith with a grant to produce the cookbook. The grant also paid for Inter-Faith’s first cookbook – “Change Lives: Faith, Family, Food” – which came out in December and is a fundraiser for the nonprofit.

More information on Inter-Faith, including how to purchase the “Change Lives” cookbook, is available at http://interfaithmodesto.org.

Bee staff writer Kevin Valine can be reached at kvaline@modbee.com or (209) 578-2316.

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