by Mary Redler, with Annie Scibienski
Thanksgiving is rapidly approaching and as in the rest of the year, the Ghent Food Pantry is here to help. The Ghent Food Pantry volunteers come together to help bring Thanksgiving dinner to Pantry clients. Your donations can make a difference, right here, right now. Financial donations are used to provide turkeys and gift cards to local households requesting assistance. The distribution includes holiday pies purchased with donations from retired teachers from the Chatham Central School District and ice cream donated by local business and long-time Pantry supporter Dairy Queen.
Food insecurity is a very real problem in our world and even in our small local towns. There are several definitions for food insecurity, but if anyone in the household is skipping meals or skimping on meals so that another can eat, they are experiencing it. Fortunately, through the goodness of neighbors, there are food pantries that help provide for these families. The Ghent Food Pantry has been in existence for many years and received its non-profit status in 2011, serving families in Ghent and the Chatham School District. It is located in Ghent Town Hall at 2306 Route 66 in Ghent. The Pantry is open Monday through Thursday from 9 am to noon on days when Town Hall is open for business. In addition to major holidays, the Pantry is closed when the Chatham School District is delayed or closed due to inclement weather.
People experiencing food insecurity can sign up for monthly orders by visiting the Pantry during operating hours. The Ghent Food Pantry currently provides food orders for an average of 75 households each month.
Volunteers are the backbone of the Pantry. Roughly 20 volunteers interact with clients, fill orders, stock shelves, maintain inventory and order food and supplies. Another crew physically handles the intake of the monthly orders. Several take their personal pickup trucks into Hudson to load them up with our order from the Regional Food Bank and bring it to Town Hall, where roughly 15 volunteers help to unload it and stock the shelves. Some of our monthly orders exceed three tons, or 6,000 pounds.
The Ghent Food Pantry is a registered 501c(3) charity which welcomes your tax-deductible donations. The Pantry is a member of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. The Regional Food Bank is a member of Feeding America. Feeding America Sets Standards and acquires food donations from national companies for its 200+ member food banks located throughout the country. The Regional Food Bank is also a member of Feeding New York State, which helps the food bank obtain more food and funds, and fosters public awareness of the food banks’ mission.
Funding for the Pantry is provided by donations from individuals, organizations, churches and some minor grants. The food that goes into monthly orders is purchased from the Regional Food Bank with these funds, making every effort to provide balanced meals with representation from the three major food groups (protein, carbohydrates and fats). The fresh vegetables purchased from the Regional Food Bank are augmented during spring and summer by donations from Long Table Harvest and local farmers. Food donations are also received from organizations, school food drives and neighbors. Baked goods are donated by Price Chopper. Depending upon the type of donation, it is included in monthly orders or offered to anyone who needs it.
The Ghent Food Pantry relies on donations of food and funds to fulfill its mission. Monetary donations can be made by check or online at https://bit.ly/GhentPantry. Where it asks what you’d like to support, select “Adopt a Program.” Then enter Ghent Food Pantry at the bottom where it asks for the partner agency name. Checks can be made out to the Ghent Food Pantry and dropped off at the Pantry or mailed to Ghent Food Pantry, 2306 Rt 66, Ghent, NY 12075.
Volunteers are always needed. If you would like to volunteer some of your time, stop by the Pantry during operating hours. Volunteers will show you around and give you information to get you started. Please understand that if there are clients picking up their orders, you may have to wait, but that doesn’t mean that your help isn’t needed or appreciated. Together, we can make life a little brighter for our neighbors in need.