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Brewerton Food Pantry offers clients choice of meals

The Brewerton Food Pantry, a joint effort of four area churches, offers clients the ability to choose their own foods within certain nutritional guidelines.

The Brewerton Food Pantry, a joint effort of four area churches, offers clients the ability to choose their own foods within certain nutritional guidelines. Photo by Sarah Hall.

— Every day, Central New York families are finding it harder and harder to put food on the table.

The Brewerton Food Pantry saw a 14 percent increase in the number of families it serves between 2011 and 2012, and that trend seems to be continuing into 2013.

“I registered two new families on Thursday, so we’re constantly getting new people,” said longtime volunteer Lauren Lalley.

Pantry coordinator Deb Lombard agreed.

“We’re getting a lot of people who are working; they’re just not making enough to pay their mortgage or their rent, their utilities, their doctor’s bills, and food seems to fall by the wayside,” Lombard said. “And some of them don’t get as much food stamp assistance as they used to. They’re cutting back on certain things. We try to meet the needs of those people as much as we can.”

For that reason, pantries like the one in Brewerton are becoming more and more important — and more and more of a community undertaking. The pantry is a truly ecumenical effort. It’s housed at the Brewerton United Methodist Church, which has partnered with St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church, Calvary Baptist Church and Christian Church to run the operation, which covers Brewerton from the Onondaga-Oswego county line down to Cicero.

The joint effort came about when Brewerton’s churches realized their food pantries were too small to serve their communities.

“It started in the early 1990s here at this church [Brewerton United Methodist],” Lombard said. “It was basically a utility closet where you had to close the door to move around in it. That’s when our church had our pantry and St. Agnes had their own pantry. Then the minds got together and said, ‘It doesn’t make sense to have two pantries a half a mile apart [that can’t serve the needs of the population].’ So we combined with St. Agnes. We came here because we had a little more space. Then the Brewerton Christian Church, which is the old stone church in the center of town, they joined us, and then within the last two years Calvary Baptist Church joined us.”

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