Community Pantry is open again

Margaretville — A year ago Hurricane Irene put the Margaretville Food Bank out of business for more than three months. But thanks to the Interfaith Council and devoted volunteers it was up and running, in a somewhat diminished capacity, in November of last year serving their client base.
Under direction of new coordinators, Joyce St George and Frank Canavan, the Margaretville Food Pantry reopened on August 20 at a new location on Route 28 under a new name, “The Community Pantry.”

Helping others
The need to help individuals and families through the continuing flood recovery, the recession, job loss and other factors prompted the expansion of the Food Bank. More than 16 percent are living at the poverty level, one of the highest in the state, and the average salary is stalled at $25,000 a year. About 28 percent of those are employed, and nearly 30 percent of community members are over 62 years of age.

The Community Pantry has expanded to reach out to individuals and families in Margaretville, Arkville, Fleischmanns, Halcottsville, Halcott Center and neighboring areas.
“We’re particularly concerned about people who are just having a hard time making ends meet,” St. George said. “We want to strengthen our community, helping each person to be the best they can be, without worrying about hunger.”

The Interfaith Council of Greater Margaretville serves as the umbrella of the pantry, Delaware Opportunities is now supplying the goods to keep the shelves stocked; and United Way has made a cash grant available to aid in developing the expansion. Margaretville Telephone Company, a long-time champion of the pantry, has also donated toward the new location, along with anonymous donors whose support and participation has been invaluable.

Hours have been extended for the Community Pantry, which had been limited even before the flood. The new hours are Mondays, from 10 a.m.-noon, and Fridays from 4-6 p.m. No reservations are needed to receive food during those hours, and new recipients are welcome.

In addition to food distribution, the Community Pantry is partnering with the Cornell Cooperative and Delaware Opportunities, to hold small group sessions on nutrition, cooking, stress management and other topics for recipients and others in the community. The pantry will also serve as a community resource center and hopes to partner with local and state social services, health institutions, schools and other organizations to provide up-to-date information about services and opportunities in the area.

There is much to be grateful for, but there is still a need for more volunteers. Joyce St George commented that she is impressed at the 25 or so volunteers now involved but that “another 10 would be even better,” to organize and stock the shelves with the ever changing array of food donations. And Frank Canavan stressed the need to include recipients of the Community Pantry as volunteers. The pantry welcomes help from clients and friends and looks for support in future from local businesses, schools and organizations.

Community work
Community Pantry Coordinators, Joyce St. George and Frank Canavan, are the co-directors of PACT Training, a 30-year-old organization that specializes in conflict resolution, crisis management and leadership training. Their reputation and experience inform the day-to-day operation and success of this essential service for the Catskill community.

The Community Pantry is inviting the community to help celebrate the expansion of the new pantry with a “Grand Opening” on Saturday, Sept. 8, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at its new location: 42838 Route 28, Suite 2, Arkville (Yellow building next to Bottini Fuel and Sanford Auto Parts). Food will not be distributed on that day, but refreshments will be served.
For more information, please call the Community Pantry at 586-2233.