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Food pantry distributes school items

The Bethlehem Food Pantry is in need of school supplies. That's right, school supplies.

In addition to collecting and distributing food items, the 25-year-old, town-supported food pantry also runs an annual school supply drive. Bethlehem Senior Projects Inc., oversees both the food pantry and the school supply drive collection for children in the Bethlehem Central School District and Ravena-Coeymans school system.

Many people don't realize there are kids in town who could benefit from our school supply drive, said outreach worker Jane Sanders.

Those interested in helping are asked to stop by town hall with donations of school supplies such as notebooks, markers, compasses, watercolors, blue and black pens, folders and more.

"The big items are the binders, composition notebooks, highlighter pens and school locks," Sanders said.

Distribution of collected school supplies by the town will be held in late August.

"We send a letter out to those who use our food pantry to tell them what we have on the list," said Sanders.

The school supply drive is one part of a three-pronged approach in stocking the pantry. Another summer project is the "Garden Bounty" program. Farmers and residents with home or community gardens drop excess produce like zucchini, tomatoes and peppers to town hall on Thursday mornings. Food pantry clients and community seniors have their pick of the produce throughout the day.

"This is really a community food pantry," said outreach worker William A. Vail, who works with Sanders and others in the office keeping the six large cabinets of food and supplies full throughout the year.

Boy Scouts and Girl Scout troops hold annual food collection drives that help keep the supply plentiful. The Bethlehem Public Library also supports the food pantry on a regular basis with collection boxes. Delmar letter carriers also hold a major food drive during the holiday season with the products going to support the pantry.

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