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Help your neighbors during the holidays; donate to the Trinity Food Pantry

BY: Jennifer Lysiak, Lancaster Editor | November 15, 2012

LANCASTER- As the holidays draw closer the Trinity Food Pantry will need all the donations it can get.

Within the last two months, the Trinity Pantry has served 476 households. That translates to 1,053 men, women, and children receiving assistance through the food pantry, based at the Trinity Episcopal Church, located at 5448 Broadway, in Lancaster.

From July 2011 to June 2012, the pantry served 3,094 households, or more simply put 6,527 people with a total of 58,743 meals distributed.

In fact, during that period the pantry experienced a 22.63 percent increase over the previous year in the number of people using its services, according to Betsy Moll director of the Trinity Pantry, which serves those who have a mailing address with a Lancaster zip code of 14086 or 14026.

This year’s numbers so far from July to October, the pantry has served 974 households or 2,050 people with a total of 18,450 meals distributed.

The pantry is open three times a week with many people using it to supplement their grocery shopping, said Moll.

When asked if there is an increase of need during the holidays, Moll said that was an interesting question; because there is no doubt that there is an increase in the level of donations.

“A huge increase,” remarked Moll. “People need to eat 365 days a year and I think maybe we think about food more at this time in general and helping others.”

After looking at the pantry’s numbers, with the holidays fast approaching, demand typically does spike. In November and December of 2011, the pantry saw a significant increase of people.

Residents come to the pantry and select canned, dried, refrigerated and/or frozen products to fill at least a couple of shopping bags. The pantry is a “client choice” pantry, meaning shoppers select only the food they want and will use.

“We try to give people enough food to cover nine meals for each time they come and they can come in every two weeks,” said Moll. “Most people come twice a month and we’re trying to give them enough for three days essentially out of that period.”

The pantry seeks donations from the community and purchases food both from the Food Bank of Western New York and at local retail stores. However, without donations of both food and money, the pantry would be unable to fulfill its mission to help low income households in the community.

“Last year, we got almost $20,000 in donations and we spent about $20,000 on food. So, there’s a lot of food that comes in and out of here,” said Moll.

Just recently, The Lancaster Striders, a running club, held a race and the proceeds were donated to the pantry. Several of the Lancaster elementary schools hold food drives and the Lancaster Teachers Association held an event at the Elks Lodge recently and collected food.

Another big food drive, sponsored by the Lancaster Office of Emergency Management (OEM) and the Lancaster Volunteer Ambulance Corps (LVAC) was held last Saturday at Tops in the D&L Plaza and at Walmart on Transit Road.

“It’s just so nice,” said Moll. “We get a lot of wonderful things from the Food Bank of Western New York, but when people buy things. They pick special things to give and that’s kind of nice for the holidays.”

Also, the Food Bank of Western New York donated 125 roaster chickens to the pantry for Thanksgiving.

Moll said the Food Bank of WNY will not be donating turkeys this year, but the pantry will hopefully receive turkey donations from people in the community, which is very nice.

Those who qualify to use the pantry have the same income level eligibility as students who are on the reduced price lunch at school, explained Moll.

In order to use the pantry, potential clients must fill out an application, a process that must be redone once a year. Proof of identification and place of residence is required, as well as proof of income level. Those who want to fill out an application may do so by visiting the pantry.

To help Moll with incoming food deliveries and clients, there are about 20 active volunteers who help at the pantry and other individuals who come in from time to time. The pantry was actually started by Jean Whiteford, who passed away in 1986. She was the spouse of the church’s pastor at the time, John Whiteford, who was a very respected minister in the area.

Moll, who has been volunteering at the pantry since 1994, became director in 2005, after she retired from her job.

“I thought I could do more and I am committed to this community,” said Moll. “Right about that time is when the recession hit in 2008 and suddenly the demand for pantry services were going way, way up.”

There was a lot of adjusting that needed to be done and the need for more volunteers, food, and money was a challenge Moll was determined to take on.

“I thought that it was a really good cause to spend my time and energies,” remarked Moll. “I’m just really glad I can help and I’m very concerned about a lot of our folks. It’s just life isn’t always fair so I’m really glad that we as a group can help and I certainly remember times in my life when I needed help and it’s nice to be able to pay in forth as they say.”

The pantry distributes food from 8 to 11:30 a.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Fridays. For those who would like to make a donation call the pantry at 683-1111.

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