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
“GIVERS GIVE.” – Kim Klein
“Thank you for being so kind. It really helped to come here. You made my situation seem a little better” the woman said as she left the pantry yesterday. We hear words like this every week…every pantry shift. People are grateful for kind words accompanying a three-day-supply of food. At the pantry, they hear kind words and then go home (wherever and whatever that is) and put food in an empty refrigerator if they have one.
KIND WORDS ARE EASY. The most difficult task I’ve encountered in the pantry since 2005 is to teach people that we’re working with a new paradigm.
In the 20th century, our nation offered government-sponsored welfare programs, and volunteerism. Private charity extended stopgap efforts and emergency assistance feeding programs to deal with hungry people.
Now, in the early 21st century, welfare reform offers cutbacks and reductions in public assistance programs. Wages decline. Housing costs increase. Corporate’s favorite method for boosting stock prices is to lay off employees and downsize to increase profitability. While these techniques may increase the Dow Jones Average, they accompany deteriorating economic security and accelerate inequality. Our hopes for eliminating poverty have been abandoned.
People hold down two and three minimum-wage jobs. Paychecks cover only rent and transportation. Food assistance is no longer emergency. People rely on food pantries and soup kitchens for their food. For members of the Struggling Class, there is no money for food…not last month, not this month, not next month.
So, this wonderful new industry is developing which recycles food rejected from grocery stores, food manufacturers, farms. Food Banks divert food from landfills and distribute it to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters.
THE FALLOUT FROM THIS IS FABULOUS! Money is being saved on dumpsters, composters, compacters, and landfill fees. This responsible method of disposing of unwanted excess food also offers us the opportunity to be kinder to our planet as we improve our environment. Besides, why throw away good food ?
THERE’S ALL THIS FOOD OUT THERE. There’s enough food for everyone. Why can’t we just stop the push back and feed the people? When this happens, our lives (everyone’s lives) will be different.
IMAGINE A WORLD WITHOUT HUNGRY CHILDREN AND GRANDMOTHERS.
Pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, halfway houses are our tax dollars at work. The food effort is mostly manned by volunteers diverting food headed to the landfill. This recycling effort works to keep people from starving in the streets.
YOU CAN BE COMFORTABLE SHOPPING AT A PANTRY. Just walk up, ride a bicycle up, or drive up to your neighborhood pantry and shop for the food you need. Hold your head high, knowing that by shopping at a food pantry, you are helping reduce landfills and you are visiting a facility where your tax dollars are at work.
If you are still uncomfortable shopping at your neighborhood food pantry after a few visits, either try out another pantry or call up the manager and volunteer. You won’t be hungry anymore. You’ll meet new friends, get good exercise, and become very knowledgeable of food. You’ll be doing wonderful things for our planet too.
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Peace and food for all.