continued In the back of the warehouse, volunteers sift through boxes of food. They throw food that’s distributable on the top belt of a conveyor belt and food too damaged or expired on the bottom. Others pack the approved items in boxes for agencies to pick-up.
The Bethlehem Food Pantry receives food deliveries from the Regional Food Bank every month.
“They can be pretty big loads when they come,” said Will Vail, an outreach worker at the pantry. “We have volunteers that help unload the items that come.”
The town’s food pantry—which has one location at Town Hall and a second at the First Reformed Church of Bethlehem—used to rely solely on donations from groups and residents of the town to stock the shelves. Now, the need is too great.
“We found we couldn’t keep it stocked. The use has escalated, it has been very pronounced,” said Vail.
To meet the growing demand, the food pantry also accepts food deliveries from Food Pantries for the Capital District.
Vail said the pantry serves about 140 people and 40 families each month.
The Schenectady Inner City Ministry also gets food from the Regional Food Bank to bolster its Emergency Food Program at 839 Albany St. In 2010, the pantry served 43,787 individuals, a record, and served a total of 394,083 meals. Recipients are eligible to participate in the program up to six times a year.
Other member agencies in the Capital District include the Capital City Mission in Albany, Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless and Unity House in Troy.
For more information about the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, located at 965 Albany-Shaker Road in Latham, or to find out how to volunteer, visit www.rfbneny.com.