Dec 14, 2008 Ami Olson Uncategorized
Food pantries across the country are struggling to provide needy families with food in the face of harsh economic times and the holidays – but shelves at the Jordan-Elbridge Ecumenical Food Pantry are far from bare.
Pantry Coordinator Joan Scott said despite the financial woes plaguing the nation, food and monetary donations to the pantry are on the rise.
“It’s wonderful,” Scott said. “The local people here have been most generous.”
Scott said she and the other pantry volunteers had braced themselves for a drop in donations, but just the opposite has happened.
What’s more is that all donations to the pantry are local, Scott pointed out. The organization does not receive supplemental donations from outside sources like the Food Bank; all monetary and food or supply donations are from community members, like local farmers who often donate surplus crops in the summer time. Some people who receive food from the pantry even take the time to volunteer and give back to the group that helped them.
Scott said the pantry provided more than 90 families with food for Thanksgiving, only a few more than last year. But volunteers expect the need to be greater for Christmas than in years past.
“I can’t get over the generosity of people in this village – it is amazing,” volunteer Kathy Bagley beamed.
Scott replied simply, “amen.”
One of the biggest problems they face is the difficulty people often find asking for help, especially for the first time. Volunteers recognize that for many people, particularly those who have not previously needed to utilize the pantry, find it tough to ask for help.
Volunteers take the anonymity of community members who need help from the pantry very seriously, and relay that to the various organizations who help out, like high school sports teams and scout troops.
Anyone residing in the Jordan-Elbridge school district in need of help should call St. Patrick’s Church, where the food pantry is located in the basement, and leave their contact information on the answering machine.
When a resident reaches out to the pantry for help, they should be ready to share some personal information about their circumstances and needs, Scott said. The information will not be shared, but is necessary for the pantry to continue providing for the truly needy and prevent anyone from taking advantage of the pantry.
The pantry may only be utilized once a month per household, though volunteers can help inform about other helpful programs, like HEEP and WIC programs. It is up to residents to apply for those programs though – pantry volunteers can only share the information.
Food packs provided by the pantry include nonperishable staples, like cans of tuna fish and boxes of macaroni and cheese, as well as fresh produce and meats and paper products.
Scott said the boxes are designed to last a family of four up to a week.
The food pantry, which is open to residents of the Jordan-Elbridge school district, was founded in 1987, and became ecumenical in 1992 when five J-E churches – Christ Episcopal, Elbridge Community, First Baptist Church of Jordan, Jordan United Methodist and St. Patrick’s churches – joined forces to run the pantry. The pantry is located in the basement of St. Patrick’s Church, 28 North Main St. in Jordan.