Food pantry Fridays

By TED WADDELL
Posted 2/8/22

MONTICELLO, NY — On a recent Friday at the Sullivan County Federation for the Homeless (SCFH), cars were stacked up for several blocks, as folks in need of food that would help them get through …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Food pantry Fridays

Posted

MONTICELLO, NY — On a recent Friday at the Sullivan County Federation for the Homeless (SCFH), cars were stacked up for several blocks, as folks in need of food that would help them get through a chilly winter weekend waited in line at the weekly food pantry.

As program director Kathy Krieter explained, the demand to fill empty bellies becomes even more critical at the end of each month, as food stamps and other supplemental assistance runs out for individuals and families in need of a helping hand.

The weekly food pantry at the SCFH has long been a staple of the nonprofit organization, in addition to its soup kitchen, which at the onset of the ongoing pandemic morphed into a food shed, called “our food palace” by Kreiter.

Fridays are a bit hectic, as a couple of employees are assisted by a small cadre of dedicated volunteers to package the food into bags and move them from what in less-COVID times was the soup kitchen eating area. Shopping carts are used to transport the food to the shed and then out to folks waiting in their vehicles or people wading through the snow and ice.

In the interest of safety, masks are mandated for all, and the staff and volunteers ensure that a sense of social distancing is observed.

According to Kreiter, on an average Friday, between 80 to 100 pantry bags are distributed without cost, including basic staples such as canned food, cereals, juice, pasta and an occasional pie, all donated by Walmart, ShopRite, ALDI and the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley.

Once the pandemic struck, SCFH cook Mike Steinbeck was essentially out of the cooking business, but these days he’s in charge of making sure the donated meals—prepared by the Forage and Gather Market in Mountaindale and the Town of Wallkill Golf Club—arrive in time and are properly distributed. That takes place Mondays through Thursdays, and Food Pantry Fridays are added to the mix.

“It’s good to help out in the community, people who can’t feed themselves, the poor people whose food stamps run out at the end of the month,” he said, adding, “We hand out pork, chicken, beef and dried goods, supermarket stuff.”

On that particular day in late January, several volunteers stepped up to the plate to help Steinbeck and stock clerk Angel Rodriguez work the food pantry.

“I’m just a volunteer in the community, that’s all,” said retired pharmacist Scott Mace, a Town of Thompson councilman. “I’ve been volunteering here off and on for a couple of years. It’s a good cause… when you see how many people need this every day, so many new faces, you realize the need that’s out there.”

Tanya Baugh, 39, said she recently returned to work as a volunteer at the food pantry. “I saw that they needed help, so I came back. It’s very important because a lot of families don’t have the income, the means or anything… it really helps.” She noted that a lot of folks often don’t have what most people take for granted, things like stoves or kitchen appliances used to prepare three hots a day.

Paul Hadatschi, 72, stood along the driveway, directing cars into an orderly line at the pantry, a volunteer job he’s been doing for the last four years or so. “It’s just something I need to do,” he said, explaining that he asks the drivers if they want the pantry goods placed in the car’s trunk or back seat; it’s all part of the team’s effort to speed up the process.

“We take walk-ups first, because people are sitting comfortably in their cars,” he added.

This story is part of the River Reporter’s “Homeless in the Land of Plenty,” a continuing series exploring homelessness in the area.

 

Comments

No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here