With demand high, food pantry gets help

Pantry HZTMost of us have probably held jobs where at times it felt like we were doing the work of two people. For Marilyn Richardson, manager of the Saugerties Area Council of Churches Food Pantry these past 20 years, it turns out she’s been doing the work of five.

That’s how many people will be on the new food pantry committee at the Council of Churches, dividing up 75 percent of the responsibilities that up to now have been all Richardson’s. She will continue to manage the facility and will supervise the committee members once they’re in place, when certain responsibilities like ordering and inventory will be put in their hands, under her watchful eye. “The pantry has grown to such a point that one person cannot do it all,” says Richardson. “I’ve just kept putting more on myself, doing it and getting along, but as I get older, it’s a lot to keep up. I’m getting physically tired.” She says that she welcomes having the help, and wouldn’t have just walked away from it in any case. “I have a responsibility and I’ve had a passion for it for 20 years. You just can’t walk away from that.”

The restructuring is in the early phases at this point, she says, pointing out that they’ve only had one meeting so far and the committee isn’t fully formed yet. “It’s more important to draw attention to the pantry,” says Richardson, “where we feed 500 people a month.” Demand for pantry services remains high.


Monetary donations enable the food pantry to purchase food from the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, a nonprofit organization in Latham that buys surplus food and collects donations from the food industry to sell at wholesale prices to food pantries, who then distribute it to those in need. Every year, the Regional Food Bank allocates over 25 million pounds of food to over 1,000 different agencies across 23 counties of New York State.

“The average cost per year we spend at the Latham food bank is over $30,000,” Richardson says.

State grants and grant partners like Markertek, Shop Rite and the Ulster County Sheriff’s Association offset half the cost, but the other half has to come from donations made by local businesses, individuals and schools.

Donations of canned goods and non-perishable food may be brought to the pantry during its hours of operation. The Food Pantry is open at 44 Livingston Street two days a week, on Mondays and on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon on each of those days, and on Tuesday evenings from 7 to 8 p.m. In addition to non-perishable food items, toiletries such as toothpaste, shampoo and bathroom tissue are always welcome. To make a monetary donation, mail a check (made out to Saugerties Area Council of Churches Food Pantry) to P.O. Box 723, Saugerties, NY, 12477. Checks should not be mailed to the pantry’s physical address. For more information, call 246-6885.