Saugerties food pantry is hurting

Donations are down, the need is up, and the Saugerties Area Council of Churches’ Food Pantry is struggling to make ends meet.

Marilyn Richardson, who runs the pantry at 44 Livingston Street, said community groups are doing everything they can to help the pantry meet the needs of about 500 households a month. The Boy Scouts recently ran their annual food drive. They’ll be doing another this coming week.

But despite the help, the donations are just not there. Last year donations were down 30 percent, and Richardson sees a similar decrease on top of that so far in 2011.

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The emotional toll is weighing on pantry volunteers.

“It’s so difficult to talk to someone who is in tears because they just lost their home, or their job, and they come in and explain they’ve never been to a food pantry,” Richardson said.

She attributes the rise in need to the weak economy and bad weather.

“People came in who had lost most of their things during the flooding from Tropical Storm Irene,” she said.

To help offset the decrease in donations, the council of churches is conducting its annual raffle, with a first place cash prize of $500, a $200 Price Chopper gift certificate as second place, and a three-month membership card to IXL Fitness. Other prizes include more than 30 gift certificates from local merchants, with each prized valued from $20 to $50.

Tickets are $5 each or 3 for $10 and will be on sale at this weekend’s Holiday in the Village celebration.

Richardson said she will be manning a small table in front of the council of churches’ clothing thrift store, The Well, on Partition Street during Sunday, Dec. 4’s celebration.

Other sites for ticket purchases are the Village Apothecary, Smith’s Hardware, the Barclay Heights Diner, Sawyer Savings Bank, and the Boys and Girls Club on Partition Street.

Money raised through the raffle will be used to purchase food from the regional food bank in Latham, Richardson explained. For every dollar Richardson spends, she said she gets $1.40 to $1.60 in food from the regional food bank to restock the Saugerties Food Pantry.

This year the local pantry was hit by an unexpected rush of folks in need, Richardson said.

“People came in who had lost most of their things during the flooding from Tropical Storm Irene,” she said.

That emergency need on top of the growing number of people coming in on a weekly basis has really put the food pantry in a tight spot, Richardson said, and she is hoping that during the holidays, local residents will remember those less fortunate living in the village and town and either donate food or purchase one of the raffle tickets.

To find out more about the food pantry, make a donation. Call Richardson at 246-6885, or to donate via mail, send a check made out to Saugerties Area Council of Churches to the Saugerties Food Pantry, PO Box 723, Saugerties, NY 12477.

The food pantry is open to any resident of the churches’ boundary area who is in need. The food pantry is open Monday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon and on Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

 

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