‘People need food’

Goshen. Anyone in the community interested in helping the Goshen Ecumenical Food Pantry is encouraged for his or her volunteer time.

| 25 Jan 2023 | 12:28

It’s still early enough in the year 2023 to make a New Year’s resolution. Ever think about adding some volunteer work to your schedule? Volunteering to help is a win for those receiving aid as well as a win for the time giver. What better way to lift your own spirit this year while enjoying that good feeling of giving time? The work is simple, fulfilling and it doesn’t cost anything.

Those living in the Goshen School District are fortunate to have the Goshen Ecumenical Food Pantry right in the heart of the village. It started in 1993 at St. John’s African Union Methodist Protestant Church at 207 West Main St., but the need for a food pantry quickly outgrew the space that church had available.

Early in 1995, the Food Pantry moved to the First Presbyterian Church in Goshen, at 33 Park Place. It’s been housed there and distributing food ever since.

Currently six churches and one temple in the Village of Florida contribute food, along with volunteer time. Anyone in the community interested in helping is encouraged for his or her volunteer time.

Ordering food

The process to fill the pantry starts with ordering food. John Strobl, who’s been with the Food Pantry since its inception, starts by placing an order with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York in Latham twice a month. The order is brought to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley in Cornwall or directly to the Department of Public Works lot on North Church Street in Goshen.

The human need here is for pickup from either of these two locations on the first and third Thursdays of the month to bring the delivery to the church. At this time the drivers/helpers unload the truck and bring the food inside, put frozen and refrigerated items away, and leave remaining food in the church lobby.

“You don’t have to have a truck to help with this. Any vehicle is good. One time we had five cars pickup the food,” said Board Member Sue Armistead.

This is a late morning shift, and help might not be needed every month. Strobl suggests putting your name on the list and help when you can.

The second shift is later that day at 5 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church. Volunteers are needed to bring the food left in the lobby up to the third floor, the site of the Food Pantry. The need for help is posted on Facebook.

“It’s great when we have a group of adults or teens, like high school sports’ teams, boy or girl scouts, church groups, so we can form a chain to bring the food upstairs to the loft,” said Strobl.

Between 75 and 100 bags

Then volunteers gather at the loft on Tuesday mornings, between 9 and 10:30 a.m. to bag the food. They fill between 75 and 100 bags.

“People here doing the bagging end up being the best of friends,” Strobl commented. “There’s so much community within the Food Pantry. It’s a blessing.”

To help with bagging, call Betty Smith at 845-649-6862.

Food distribution is the second Saturday and fourth Thursday of each month. To receive aid potential clients come in person to the church at the time of distribution and fill out a form that’s available there. The form requires a minimum of information, but most importantly, proof of residency — driver’s license or O & R bill.

More than food

“It’s not just all food” on distribution day, said Smith, explaining that toiletries, like toothbrushes and toothpaste, soaps, hand sanitizers, baby food and baby items, like diapers, and pet food are also available.

Of course, as with bringing the food up to the pantry, help is needed to bring it down on Distribution Day. Volunteers are needed between 8 and 10 a.m. on the second Saturday (distribution between 9 and 10 a.m.) and on the fourth Thursday between 5 and 7 p.m. (distribution between 6 and 7 p.m.).

‘Scouting for Food’ coming on March 4

Along with getting items from the Food Bank, food is collected in other ways: From the Chester ShopRite, the Goshen Library, St. John’s Evangelist Church, St. James Episcopal Church. “Working around their schedules, volunteers take turns picking up food from these locales,” said Carolyn Keller, who, with her husband Bill, has volunteered at the Food Pantry for many years.

Various organizations have yearly food drives. Be on the alert for the Boy Scouts Troop 63 “Scouting for Food” coming on Saturday, March 4 (Bags Out on Front Porch) and Saturday, March 11 (Collection) and the Goshen Post Office sponsored, “Stamp Out Hunger,” happening on May 13.

Why do people volunteer? Bagger Florine Luba of Goshen, who’s been helping for five-years, comes because “People need food, and when I see people take it, I feel good. My grandmother fed me and now that people don’t have as much I feel like I’m family, giving to strangers. I worked for 27-years as a nursing assistant at then Horton Hospital. I feel that doing this fills the void. It makes me feel good.”

It’s simple to help with food distribution, said Armistead: “Just show up with a smile and be nice to our clients. There are no rules—just be nice, try to make it pleasant.” She added a note for the clients: “We’re here. Rain or shine.”

For more information on the Goshen Ecumenical Food Pantry, call John Strobl at 845-294-9004.