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Food pantry seeks new digs

Need has steadily grown in Bethlehem along with recession

— Partly because of that lack of space, Sanders said privacy is an issue for some.

It can be uncomfortable for people to use the pantry since it is such a public location, she said. When people visit, white screens are placed in front of the stage for privacy but they can often be seen when entering or leaving the area. Sanders said when the room is in use for a meeting or program, people using the pantry are led in through the back.

Finding a new location has not been easy. Becker said they have been looking for about two years. The space needs to be bigger, within a short distance from the Town Hall and nearly rent-free.

“At this point we are just looking for ideas,” she said. “If some local churches could help, that would be great.”

Sanders agreed, adding it would be great if a partnership could be formed. Venture Churches already have an established food pantry at the First Reformed Church of Bethlehem in Selkirk. Sanders said it is bigger and has refrigeration.

“We need a place (or places) where we can grow,” she said.

Bethlehem Food Pantry drop-off locations are at the Bethlehem Town Hall, the Bethlehem YMCA, the Delmar Marketplace and the Bethlehem Public Library. Items needed include canned tuna fish, canned chicken, pasta sauces and peanut butter. Monetary donations are also appreciated.

For more information on how to volunteer, donate, or use the pantry call 439-4955 ext. 1176.

A joint program between Bethlehem Senior Projects and the town’s Department of Senior Service, those who run the food pantry are now thinking of ways to expand. According to Senior Services Director Joyce Becker, about 1,800 people used the pantry last year and demand has tripled since 2009.

“We’re looking for someplace where we have more room,” she said. “Right now, we are just jammed. We do a lot with very little space.”

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