“Hi Chris! How’s it going today? Are you busy or what in here? This place is jammed! ”
“Busy as always Thurman. We’ve got melons and a lot of tomatoes today. We’re out of the special HPNAP produce.”
“Listen Chris, it doesn’t matter. Prasida and Francine and I always find something wonderful and magical here every time we come to the Food Bank.”
Prasida and Francine make it their life’s work to get the best possible produce from Latham to Boiceville every Monday morning. These 2 women know food. Each week is a food quest for them.
THIS IS EXACTLY THE SAME SITUATION FOR THOSE SEEKING FOOD FROM A FOOD PANTRY.
And, of course, fresh produce and bakery goods are only part of the picture…Much of what happens is unplanned, haphazard, erratic. No one really complains. After all, we’re getting food, aren’t we? And, none of us has the authority, resources, responsibility, or ideas to improve the system.
IT BOILS DOWN TO THIS: WE AT RESERVOIR FOOD PANTRY:
GET WHAT WE GET
WHEN WE GET IT
HOW WE GET IT.
OUR CLIENTS GET WHAT THEY GET WHEN THEY CAN MAKE IT TO THE PANTRY.
WHEN THEY CAN NO LONGER MAKE IT TO THE PANTRY, WE GET IT DELIVERED TO THEM SOMEHOW.
LARGE DIFFERENCES EXIST IN CLIENT ACCESS TO PANTRIES AND SOUP KITCHENS. There are no soup kitchens in the Reservoir Food Pantry area. If a person out here needs to go to a soup kitchen, the best opportunity is to go to Woodstock on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 4:30 pm. That’s when the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen in the back building of Christ Lutheran Church is open. Chances are good that if you don’t live in Woodstock and don’t have the wherewithal to put together a meal at your home (wherever and whatever that is), you aren’t going to have the wherewithal to make it over to Woodstock either.
AVAILABILITY HAS A LOT TO DO WITH ACCESS. Our pantry distributes food 3 days weekly but it’s only open on Mondays in Boiceville. If, for example, you live in West Shokan and have no transportation on Mondays, you aren’t going to make it to our pantry. Unfortunately, this also holds true in urban settings as well.
KINGSTON HAS MANY PANTRIES AND SOUP KITCHENS. There again, you need to be able to get to them when they’re open. Some people simply can’t make it over.
Take, for example, Motel 19, a shelter located at the intersection of Routes 28, 209, and 87 on the edge of Kingston. Without a bicycle or car, a person is looking at a long hike.
Imagine being a young mother with an infant or child trying to get to a grocery store, doctor’s office, pantry or soup kitchen. Imagine walking down a highway with this infant or child in your arms as cars travel faster than 45 miles per hour.
What if there is rain, freezing rain, or a snow storm?
Shoppers in rural areas routinely face transportation difficulties. People travel significant distances. Some walk, bicycle, take the bus, or hitch rides from friends and neighbors.
THE RULE IS THIS: THOSE MOST IN NEED HAVE THE LEAST ACCESS TO TRANSPORTATION.
Reservoir Food Pantry has been designated a mobile food pantry. We deliver food to half of our clients. One stop is a low rent complex for seniors. Another is an intergenerational low rent complex. The remainder of the stops are at individual residences – apartments, homes, rooms, whatever.
As challenging as it is for shoppers to get to the pantry, it’s equally difficult for the pantry volunteers to get to the Food Bank. At Reservoir Food Pantry, we’re fortunate to have dedicated volunteers and a reliable vehicle sold to me by Sawyer Motors at an excellent price. Remove those 2 factors, and the result is a mess.
SOME FOOD PANTRIES HAVE LIMITED FINANCIAL DONORS AND VOLUNTEERS. Some have transportation issues. They may lack produce, baked goods, and other foods necessary for a balanced diet.
The structure of our Food Bank/Food Pantry system is unable to ensure those in the greatest need will have access to food.
The Food Banks of Northeastern New York and the Hudson Valley are focused on developing innovative ways to get the food to the people. A designated truck is driven on a regular route to grocery stores, farms, food manufacturers, and other locations to pick up food and take it to the Food Bank. It is then sorted and made available to pantries.
THE FARM STANDS AT PEOPLES PLACE AND COMMUNITY IN KINGSTON ARE PRODUCTS OF THIS EFFORT.
The Food Bank of the Hudson Valley conducts daily mass food distributions throughout the area where a food bank driver in a semi delivers 12 pallets of food to a central point predetermined by a schedule. The food is then distributed to pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, individual households. Communities receiving these food distributions regularly include communities such as Lake Katrine, Gardiner, Kingston.
We have much needed food going to hungry people. I only wish more of it were going to the more rural locations.
Now that I’m writing a wish list, I wish more pantries would open on evenings and weekends. This is difficult to do, I know. Reservoir Food Pantry is not yet open weekends.
I also wish pantries could give up some of the identification requirements.
JUST FEED THE PEOPLE, YOU KNOW?
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Peace and food for all.