After feeding hungry people in Woodstock for over 30 years, volunteers at the Good Neighbor Food pantry were asked to leave the pantry’s space at the Woodstock Reformed Church by June 1, when the pantry will close..
This didn’t happen because there were no hungry people to use the pantry. This pantry has been one of the largest in the area since it expanded in the economic downfall of 2008. Before that time, shoppers were mostly a couple dozen single homeless men and Woodstock colorful characters.
With the economic downfall, patronage escalated from 25 people per week to hundreds. Hungry people filled the halls. The line filed out the door into the parking lot.
Before the economic downfall, people came in and got one or two each of four basic items: cereal, tuna fish, peanut butter, soup. About the time that the crowds began to shop for food, the food bank changed the system to include fresh produce and a three-day-supply of food for every person in the household.
People left the pantry with bags of food: eggs, vegetables, fruit, yogurt, items of dignity.
Church members and townspeople never really accepted these changes.
People resented the changes they didn’t ask for. This was understandable. No one likes change, especially uninvited change.
They liked feeling only a few people in town needed food.
They liked thinking the pantry was “theirs” when it really belonged to the Food Bank. After all, that’s where the food came from. That’s where volunteer training came from. That’s where food and rent grants originated.
With the changes in food served came training classes at the Food Bank. Funds became available to assist pantries with rent, and utilities. At that time, the volunteer coordinator applied for and received a $1,000 rent grant to pay the church annually.
The $1,000 rent grant was new for the Woodstock Reformed Church. No food pantry volunteers had paid rent money to help the membership.
At the time, the intention was to increase the amount annually. $8,000 was a long range goal.
$8,000 was not out of line if the refrigerators and freezers were moved from the unpainted barn in the parking lot to the church basement.
A nationally known fundraising guru, Kim Kline, taught interested nonprofit volunteers how to raise money. She based her success on the premise that givers give. She told everyone in the class exactly what to do.
After this class, pantry volunteers in Woodstock did exactly as she instructed.
These fundraising efforts at the pantry made the Good Neighbor Food Pantry a success story. Secrets of successful fundraising are outlined in detail on pages 196 and 197 of the book “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore.”
The Good Neighbor Food Pantry need not close. There is time to raise the money needed. There are probably still volunteers in this pantry who remember these skills taught by Kim Kline.
There is still time to feed the many hungry people who need this food. The need is greater now than it has ever been.
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Thank you for your interest in feeding hungry people. Our need is greater now than ever before.
Woodstock, New York
“No Fixed Address” is dedicated to those in our country with no roof over their heads. See your neighbors, your friends, your relatives, in new ways as they describe their daily lives in their own words.
The people in this new book reveal themselves to be both brave and fearless as they go about their activities: work, laundry, children’s homework, appointments. Mostly they live like the rest of us. They just have no roof over their heads.
“No Fixed Address” is my newest book in the Unworthy Hungry series. It’s easy to read and understand. You won’t be bored, not even for a minute.
I hope you’ll order it today. Get an extra copy for a friend!
This book has an extra surprise. When you get a copy, you’ll be making a donation to a good cause. You’ll be fighting hunger and homelessness.
It doesn’t get much better than that!
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The truth is that food pantries are not perfect. Not anywhere near perfect, actually. And, they never will be. How can they be near perfect when there is often not enough food in the pantry to feed the many people shopping there?
But, they get to be as near to perfection as they do because the people who work in them are often retired, elderly volunteers who really care and have the time to put in extra effort.
And, how can they be perfect when the food is mostly donated food that was on its way to the landfill before some enterprising person snapped it up for the hungry people in the line?
And, the truth is that food pantries, to a certain extent, are neighbors helping neighbors. This is a wonderful attitude.
The positive energy is exhibited in this sharing wonderful world, indeed. Without these wonderful people and their generous attitudes, people would be starving in this great nation of ours. Food pantries are our first line of defense against hunger.
But, often these food pantries which depend to a great extent on the generosity of individuals simply don’t have enough food. Insufficient is the word used.
Because there is little oversight, there is little control. So, a person shopping at a pantry may get enough to eat or may not. The quality of the food has little oversight. So, the person shopping may be getting food which is all out-of-date, or which is food which cannot be eaten by the person needing the food.
An example of this is the person without teeth. People without teeth are very restricted in what they can take because they can’t chew many foods.
Another example is the diabetic person who can only eat certain types of food without health problems.
And, all quality issues aside, there may simply be insufficient food in the pantry to feed the number of people shopping even though a pantry is the first line of defense against hunger.
Personally, in the Good Neighbor Food Pantry, I had a morning when I ran out of food. I simply didn’t have enough food to give to the people. This was an experience I’ll never forget.
Finally, the Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program people sent down guidelines requiring that pantries serve a three-day-supply of food for each person in the household. HPNAP guidelines required that pantries serve fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Pantries were asked to serve whole grain breads and low-fat milk.
This was a wonderful thing which I applauded enthusiastically when I learned about the guideline. However, it was challenging to the many pantries without freezers and refrigerators.
The truth is that pantries everywhere simply don’t have enough food to meet the demand.
What can we do about this? For starters, we can realize that pantries are our first line of defense against hunger in this country.
Then, we can follow up this realization with food donations throughout the year.
One can of something every week helps over time. Find a pantry and give to help those in need. Do you plant a garden in the summer? Add a row for your pantry!
Thank you for what you are doing for those in need.