Elizabeth Cerveny said she likes a challenge.
This is one of the reason’s Cerveny decided to apply for the position of executive director of the North County Community Food Bank when she saw the posting a couple of months ago.
“I’m a person who really likes to be challenged and I enjoy the variety of tasks that this job gives me,” Cerveny said. “I’ve also worked for a variety of nonprofits so I have the background for it. When I saw the posting for the job, it excited me and with my different managerial skills and background, I thought I would be a good fit.
Cerveny officially started as the executive director of the food bank on Jan. 3. She said she was given a tour by the food bank board of directors Jan. 2 and was ready to go by the next day. She replaces Sherry Lambert, who served as interim director of the food bank.
“I know they had quite a few candidates for the job,” Cerveny said. “Most of my experience comes from volunteering at food banks through college.”
John Idsinga, president of the North County Community Food Bank Board of Directors, said Cerveny has turned out to be a great asset to the food bank and to the community, and she is well appreciated by the rest of the board members and the volunteers.
“Liz came to us with a lot of new and innovative ideas and that’s what we need to move the food bank forward and take it to the next level,” Idsinga said. “She’s really great, she’s a dynamo. She’s taken on a challenge and has learned a lot in just a little over a month.”
Although she’s only been the executive director for a little more than a month, Cerveny said she has spent quite a bit of time looking at what she and the food bank volunteers can do better to make things run more smoothly and efficiently. She said there are currently about 55-75 volunteers who give their time to the food bank and she is very appreciative of every one of those volunteers.
“All the volunteers are very talented and sharp,” Cerveny said. “They know all the day-to-day operations, and none of this would be possible without the volunteers.”
Cerveny said she believes there is always room for gaining efficiency and right now she and the volunteers are working on making the best use of their limited time and space. She said they are also trying to improve by getting to a point where they aren’t touching things any more than they have to before they are distributed to individuals and families.
Although the space in the food bank is limited, Cerveny and the volunteers try to make the most of it by keeping it neat and organized. In the back of the building, shelves are lined with different foods waiting to be packaged and distributed, including things like peanut butter, canned tuna, canned chicken, crackers and more. A large walk-in cooler and freezer house a variety of frozen vegetables and additional shelves in the back contain some of the fresh produce such as potatoes, oranges, onions and more, which comes from partner grocery stores through the Fresh Food Alliance.
A large sorting room in the center of the building contains dozens of boxes of items waiting to be sorted, packaged, inspected and dated. Cerveny said this is one of the areas she and the volunteers tried to make a bit more organized by adding labels for different spots and boxes.
With the large amount of food present, Cerveny said it’s very important for them to keep everything clean and sanitary. She said the volunteers are very careful to keep things clean and they wear gloves when handling the food.
Cerveny said she is at the food bank five days a week. Her day usually starts around 7:30 or 8 a.m., and she is usually there well into the evening.
“There is always something to do,” she said.
Aside from her new leadership position at the food bank, Cerveny is also currently serving as a council member on the La Center City Council. She is also the former mayor of La Center.
“I like being involved and getting involved with the community,” Cerveny said. “I like to help manage and help point the community in the right direction.”
Cerveny is also president of the La Center Garden Club, serves on La Center Historical Museum Board of Directors and serves on the board of directors of the La Center Community Scholarship Foundation. She lives with her husband Jay, who also has two grown daughters.
For more information on the North County Community Food Bank, visit www.nccfoodbank.org, call (360) 687-5007 or visit the food bank at 17 NE 3rd Ave., Battle Ground.
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