Our pantry served the community of Wappingers Falls to the glory of God for 30 years, regularly feeding 20 households 2x/month. In recent years, those numbers were beginning to decline and we tried multiple strategies to increase awareness, outreach and make improvements to our operation.
When we became a member of the Food Bank, we bought equipment through grants to provide produce and dairy products, greatly improving our nutritional offerings beyond dry goods. We made an arrangement with the Common Ground Farm to receive donations of farm-fresh produce for distribution. We surveyed clients to see if the day & time was still convenient and ultimately changed it to better meet their needs.
When the pandemic hit last year, unlike most food pantries that saw huge increases in demand, our demand dried up completely. Soon after, our dedicated food pantry coordinator, Kathy Sorce, had to step down from her role. We temporarily suspended operations in January 2021 so that we could reassess and look for another coordinator. In the spring, we surveyed the clients of our Free Community Dinner, to see if we might gain insight about food pantry needs. There was little interest among them to visit our pantry. And although we have been actively seeking since the spring, we have been unable to identify a volunteer who is able to coordinate the administrative needs of the pantry and the volunteers who pack and distribute pantry bags. Without someone to provide this leadership, we simply cannot reopen.
At a called meeting last night, the session voted to permanently close the food pantry and give thanks for the ministry that we have been able to offer for all these years. We are saddened to make this decision, but know that at this time, it is the right one.
We are in communication with the Regional Food Bank and others to spread this news. We intend to plan a formal acknowledgement of all of the volunteers who have contributed over time, to give thanks for the time, talent and treasure given to support this program over the years, and give thanks for the relationships this ministry has fostered in our community.
Please keep watch for this announcement, and please hold our congregation in your prayers.