Community Pantry opens in new Arkville lcoation

By Brian Sweeney
A public reception attended by more than 50 guests was held Saturday at the new location of the Community Pantry on Route 28, Arkville.

The new facility provides significantly more space than was available at the pantry’s Margaretville location and will make it possible for services to be expanded.

The Rev. Richard Dykstra, secretary/treasurer of the Interfaith Council of Greater Margaretville, conducted the ribbon cutting at Saturday’s opening. The council serves as the umbrella organization for the Community Pantry.

In the wake of historic flooding last August, the Margaretville Food Pantry (as it was formerly known) was unable to operate for three months. The facility was reopened in November, but the need for a larger space was already being addressed.

The new location at 42838 State Highway 28, Arkville offers added convenience, approximately five times more square footage and room for expanded programming. The Community Pantry began operations at the Arkville site on August 20.

The name change to the Community Pantry was meant to reflect the goal of serving individuals and families in Margaretville, Arkville, Fleischmanns, Halcottsville, Halcott Center and neighboring areas.

Delaware Opportunities provides the goods for stocking the shelves and a grant from the United Way is being utilized for the expansion project.

Community support
The Margaretville Telephone Company, which has been a strong supporter of the pantry since its inception, has also provided financial assistance to help with the move. Several other donors, who wished to remain anonymous, have also provided much-needed assistance with the project.

Adele Siegel, president of Interfaith Council, was among those who addressed the numerous visitors who turned out for Saturday’s opening. She expressed thanks to many people whose efforts made the move to the new location possible.

“For the past 12 years, the food pantry was maintained with minimal expenses because Rob Allison gave us space and paid our electric bill.  The pantry was run for many years by coordinators Dee Iommi and Josie Stern and a group of faithful volunteers,” Mrs. Siegel recalled.

The flood provided the impetus for the organization to further its outreach efforts, she said.
“We are at a time when the needs are even greater which required a new facility and a new approach.  Joyce St. George and Frank Canavan, with impressive community experience, volunteered to reorganize the pantry to meet new challenges,” Mrs. Siegel explained.
The Interfaith Council president also acknowledged others who were instrumental in making the move/expansion possible.

 “We were encouraged by sage advice and generous assistance from the Pasternak Family Foundation.  Terry Capuano of United Way has been an equally enthusiastic and generous partner.  We acknowledge the great cooperation of Margaretville Telephone Company, Freshtown, Community Bank and the Dollar Store,” added Mrs. Siegel.

Mrs. St. George spoke about exciting plans for the facility, including sessions on healthy eating and easy recipes with programs by Cornell Cooperative Extension.  With its spacious facilities, she sees the Community Pantry becoming a resource center.

“In the wake the Hurricane Irene and a difficult economy, we want to serve those in need,” said St. George, “especially senior citizens who are living on fixed incomes struggling with higher prices, and working families whose salaries do not cover their needs, as well as those who are unemployed.”
Approximately 25 volunteers help run the Community Pantry and more always welcome, Mrs. St. George noted. Volunteer work primarily includes organizing and stocking the shelves with the food items that are constantly being added.

The Community Pantry will have regular hours on Mondays from 10 a.m.-noon and Fridays from 4-6 p.m. Reservations are not necessary to receive food during those hours. New recipients are welcome.
For additional information, please call 845 586-2233.