05.04.15

Food Panrty Story POST

For over 30 years, the FPCY Food Pantry has been serving the less fortunate of our community. And as with many things, it started small. As a matter of fact, it was a closet. The Deacons had been reactivated in 1984 and one of their first initiatives was to open a Food Closet in 1985.

Yes, it was one of the closets in the office, where food was stored and distributed as needed. Members of the church would go to Food Patch located in Millwood and bring food items to resupply the Food Closet.

As the number of needy clients grew steadily in the early 1990s, so did the Food Closet. We moved out of the church office and expanded into TWO closets in Room 1.

Over time Food Patch grew and so did we. Food Patch became the Food Bank for Westchester and we became an officially recognized Food Pantry Agency with the Food Bank in 1992. To maintain agency status we must comply with sanitation, food safety, quality of food bags (i.e. balanced, nutritious food), and record keeping on clients and number of meals provided.

The Food Pantry is open from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month with the exception of November and December when the schedule is modified to address the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

In the early 1990s we benefited from a newly established delivery system which brought our food order to the church. We operated out of Room 1. We would distribute between 40 to 60 bags at each pantry day, and the food products that were offered were all “dry and canned” grocery products such as :

  • powdered milk
  • spaghetti,
  • tomato sauce,
  • canned and dry beans
  • soup
  • rice,
  • canned fruit,
  • and our favorite item, USDA canned pork product.

In addition bread was distributed when it was available.

The Food Pantry experienced a large increase in demand in the late ’90s and we were fortunate to be the recipient of grants ranging from $15,000 to $20,000 each year. In this period we were also able to greatly enhance the range of food offered. This included fresh produce and fruits (Green Thumb Program), breads from Panera and JV Bagels, and quality meat products e.g. whole chickens.

The next move was to Room 16 on Pantry Days to accommodate increased demand and to offer flexibility in moving clients thru the process. Room 2 was made available to store inventory. Our limited freezer space was augmented with one grant supporting the purchase of the double door freezer currently in the kitchen.

By the year 2005 we were in crisis mode because corporate and other agency grants that underpinned our funding were disappearing, but client numbers were on the rise. Especially following the Great Recession in 2008, our clients’ needs have skyrocketed. The price of food continued to climb but wages had stagnated so those who were on the edge of poverty before now found themselves in it. But major funding was running out.

To our great good fortune we were awarded a donation from The Frase-Stockwell Fund leading to the creation of the FPCY FOOD PANTRY TRUST with a Matching Grant of $100,000. Our yearly draw down is about $10,000 a year which goes to matching congregation (and community) donations of approximately that amount.

Current status

  • Numbers of clients 150 families, 500 individuals per pantry
  • Food Supplied average 5000 lbs per pantry
  • Volunteers average 15-25 per pantry

 

Our Food Pantry today provides a significant measure of critical relief to those who are food insecure. Some interesting statistics:

  • most of our clients only come 3 or 4 times to fill short term needs
  • we serve a significant number of elderly people and veterans in our client population
  • while our pantry’s unrestricted geography brings in additional clients, it also allows us to obtain increased grant funding.

 

Looking forward, we will endeavor to continue this wonderful community outreach program which connects FPCY directly to needy individuals.

Adults and teenagers are invited to join us at 8am to help prepare food bags, distribute the food, and help recipients carry bags to their cars.  Just show up at the Church any Food Pantry morning.

If you would like to donate to the food pantry (your gift will be matched by the Food Pantry Trust!) you can write a check to the church specifying “Food Pantry,” or you can Give Now and use the Food Pantry line item.

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