Rachel Daluge wears her single status with pride. Single as in single employee of the Jackson Cupboard.
The 35-year-old recently accepted the role of the Jackson Cupboard’s operations director, a new position within the nonprofit and the only one that draws a paycheck.
Her job, simply put, is to help further the nonprofit’s mission of providing nutritious food to people in need. In reality she does a bit of everything, and she loves it.
Daluge came to the position, she said, out of a passion for making an impact in the community.
“Seeing the amazing support from the community and everyone willing to help the Cupboard, whether it be through donations or volunteering, is really the best part of my job,” she said. “I love seeing all the different people willing to come together and jump in to serve a common need.”
The Chicago native found her way to Jackson in 2004 after graduating from Concordia University-Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies. An internship with the Teton County Weed and Pest District initially lured her here, and the opportunity soon turned into a full-time position, one she held for 10 years.
Weed and Pest is also where she met her husband, Mark, who serves as the supervisor of the Invasive Species Program.
The arrival of their first child, Harper, sent Daluge looking for a part-time position, something that would allow her to better balance work and family. She landed a spot in human resources for The Liquor Store of Jackson Hole and a similar position at Teton Science Schools.
The birth of baby No. 2, Remy, sent her down a different path, one that had her working as a part-time library assistant at Teton County Library. That position was “perfect for my family,” she said.
She still helps out at the library but has slid into her new job at the Jackson Cupboard.
It’s a shift for the Cupboard, an organization dreamt up in 2001 by a team of people, including Steve Gieck, Jett Thompson, Paul Vogelheim, Kathy Cummings, Amy Brooks, Dallas Hill and Willi Brooks. Largely a Boy Scout project that became a community asset, the food pantry ran for 16 years solely on volunteer power, until Daluge stepped into her role this fall.
If the past several years have taught her anything, it’s how to juggle. Her life is hectic, she said, but she has found her rhythm with multitasking. For example, she was doing laundry as she spoke with the News&Guide for this interview.
Her role at the Cupboard allows for a somewhat flexible schedule, but there’s always something to do.
“I’m always checking on any drop-offs that happen, or just stay on call in case any volunteers can’t make it,” she said. “There are also stocking hours where volunteers come in and stock the shelves, so I could be helping out with that.”
Even when Daluge is not at the Cupboard she’s working on projects for the nonprofit — coordinating food drive events, for example, or managing the nonprofit’s the Facebook account.
As for the food pantry’s future, she has big plans, including a facelift of the space.
“We only have four home freezers and two fridges,” she said. “A walk-in space would really help us out in terms of perishables and frozen meat products.”
Daluge also aspires to expand the Cupboard’s reach, offering more to the community than food.
“With having a dedicated employee as the face of the Cupboard we hopefully can reach out to even more community members, whether it be to increase our volunteer pool or appeal to those in need.” she said. “I’d love to see the Cupboard have more educational opportunities. Not only to have someone come in to talk about nutrition, but someone to talk about substance use or smart grocery shopping.”
The next few months are a bit of a “trial period,” a time for the nonprofit to determine if full-time staff is needed or if it should revert to management by volunteers.
Daluge said she’s just happy to have the opportunity.
“I wake up excited to go to work,” she said. “I just can’t wait to help people in the community.”
This story was edited online to include the names of all the founders of the Jackson Cupboard. — Eds.