Woodstock town officials seek volunteers to go grocery shopping for people during COVID-19 pandemic

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Woodstock’s town employees are pitching in and helping deliver food to people in need through shopping for those who don’t want to venture out and delivering meals to people who can’t afford them.

“I have to say I’m very proud of the town employees,” Supervisor Bill McKenna said at the regular Town Board meeting April 14 via videoconference.

The highway and maintenance departments and Youth Center have delivered 17,000 pounds of food to the Good Neighbor Food Pantry and 50 cartons of groceries to the Woodstock Commons housing complex.

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Through Ulster County’s Project Resilience, town employees have delivered 1,800 meals to Woodstock residents.

Project Resilience, announced in March by County Executive Pat Ryan, is a community fund and food distribution program to support those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Food is purchased from local restaurants through funding from donations and brought to local distribution centers, where it can be picked up by residents or delivered to their homes.

McKenna thanked Provisions and Maria’s Bazaar for working to get meals to the people in need. About 150 meals a day are delivered in Woodstock through Project Resilience, he said.

In addition to free meal deliveries, town employees and volunteers have gone shopping for those who don’t want to go to the store.

A new program launched by Sunflower Natural Foods in cooperation with the town allows customers to call the supervisor’s office with their shopping list. A volunteer will collect the items from the shelves and it can be picked up at the store or delivered. McKenna asks that it be limited to town residents. He is working with neighboring town supervisors to assemble a roster of volunteers for their residents.

McKenna said he can use more people to help in Woodstock.

“I spent probably three-quarters of my day fielding calls and emails” for shopping requests, he said. “Right now I have seven shoppers and I could use seven more.”

The town can provide masks for volunteer shoppers.

Since the program began April 8, volunteers including town employees have made 35 shopping trips to Sunflower.

Many other markets and delis are offering curbside pickup for those who can drive but do not want to risk exposure by going inside.

Councilman Reggie Earls encouraged people who are in good health and have the time to volunteer shop for people. “I promise you it doesn’t really take a long time,” he said. “People are so appreciative.”

Councilman Richard Heppner expressed gratitude for everyone’s hard work, “not only for town employees, but people at the counters.” The grocery clerks and the people handling takeout deserve a lot of thanks, he said.

“When all this is done we should have a parade down Tinker Street,” Heppner said.

McKenna agreed and said he has a couple ideas for celebrations he’s not quite ready to share yet.

Councilman Lorin Rose said he believes volunteers and the people who work at the grocery store will be more valued in the future.

McKenna said the Woodstock S.O.S. Program, or Senior Outreach Services, is a success through the help of Deputy Supervisor Maria-Elena Conte. Through the program, emergency dispatch keeps a list of those who need a regular phone call to check on them or need food or other supplies delivered.

Conte said by reaching out, we can find out what people’s needs are and how to address them. A big concern, she said, was getting prescriptions filled.

To volunteer or request Sunflower grocery delivery, call the supervisor’s office at (845) 679-2113, ext. 17.

There are 2 comments

  1. Lea Cullen Boyer

    This is confusing. I get the story about how folks are donating to pay restaurants to feed the hungry. This is awesome. I don’t understand why town employees are doing the basic order taking and pick work that most other health food stores are providing for their customers. Is Sunflower not providing this service with paid employees? Odd.

    1. Nick Henderson

      The supervisor’s office is taking the order and passing it on to a volunteer. In some cases it is a town employee. It is my understanding the store tried it with employees and it did not work logistically, so they asked for volunteers.

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