ANCRAM—The Town Board has agreed to provide annual financial assistance to a local not-for-profit group of volunteers who help feed hungry people in this area.
At its June 17 meeting, the board approved a resolution to support the Ancramdale Neighbors Helping Neighbors Association’s (ANHNA) weekly food delivery program with $11,000 annually and the purchase of a vehicle costing about $40,000 that the group can use to pick up and deliver food.
According to meeting notes provided by Supervisor Art Bassin, the town expects to fund this assistance through Ancram’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation of $160,000 in 2021 and 2022, and through the town budget after 2022. “Because the timing of the availability of ARPA funds is not certain, this program may be funded initially with Town funds, which we expect, but are not certain, will be reimbursed by ARPA funds when they become available. Due to a shortage of vehicles suitable for use by ANHNA, we expect to acquire a vehicle for ANHNA in the spring of 2022,” Mr. Bassin wrote.
ANHNA Co-chair Jack Lindsey told The Columbia Paper by phone this week, that up until now group volunteers have been borrowing a pick-up truck to make the trip to the Regional Food Bank in Albany, loading it with about 2,000 pounds of food and hauling it to the ANHNA food pantry at the Ancramdale Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall for distribution. When it rains, the food must be covered with a tarp during the return trip.
The food feeds about 90 people in 16 Ancram families per week. Any excess food is given to the food pantries in neighboring Pine Plains and Hillsdale.
Because ANHNA volunteers are all senior citizens, the group is finding it increasingly difficult to make the 175-mile round trip, which usually takes all day, not to mention the lifting, loading and sorting of the ton of food. At the end of the day, the food will have been lifted about four times, said Mr. Lindsey.
‘The town is being very generous.’
Jack Lindsey, co-chair
Ancramdale Neighbors Helping Neighbors Assn.
ANHNA now plans to contract with a more able-bodied person to make the drive and “do all the heavy lifting.” The Town Board has agreed to reimburse the group for that cost. The contractor will be paid about $20/hour equivalent to what a town Highway Department employee might earn, Mr. Lindsey said.
The vehicle that has been identified for purchase is a basic, no frills Dodge panel van. Currently there is a waiting list for the vehicle so it will not be available for a few months.
Mr. Lindsey said the van will not be exclusively dedicated to food distribution, but the town will find other uses for it, maybe related to the summer camp program.
Leasing or renting a vehicle was considered, but found to be not as cost effective, he said, adding, “The town is being very generous.”
Asked if other food pantries get municipal funding assistance, Mr. Lindsey said, “Yes, most do.”
According to information provided by the Regional Food Bank, which supplies food pantries from the Adirondacks to Westchester County, 67% of food pantries get some municipal help, whether it be monetary or in-kind services, he said.
Columbia Opportunities, Inc., (COI) (www.columbiaopportunities.org), is an agency that “helps solve poverty-related problems in our community, which is all of Columbia County.” The organization’s Community Services Program offers: emergency financial assistance when no other resources are available; emergency food pantry and essential items (Monday through Friday); problem solving for income and family issues; referrals and advocacy to insure that individuals and families have access to all available and necessary services; telephone and online access for employment and housing searches.
COI Director of Operations Gail Paone said by phone this week that most local food pantries in Columbia County are run by churches or other organizations and operate independently. They all have their own criteria for pantry use and hours of operation.
Besides running its own food pantry, COI acts as a distribution point where many local pantries which are Regional Food Pantry members can come and pick up their orders when they are delivered there by truck, she said.
Last year, Covid-19 restrictions impacted the number of people Columbia Opportunities served. Food was provided to 225 individuals between October 1, 2019 and September 30, 2020.
During the previous year, October 1, 2018 to September 30, 2019, 486 individuals were served. Columbia Opportunities obtains food products from a variety of sources such as local/private donations, monetary donations, grants as well as participation in the Regional Food Bank, Ms. Paone said.
There is “no way to gauge” the number of people who will need to use a food pantry, she said. “It depends on the economy, whether people are laid off or ill—many factors go into it.”
To contact Diane Valden email
Local food pantries
A LIST OF ALL the food pantries in Columbia County follows, provided by Columbia Opportunites, Inc., and last updated January 2018 by the Hawthorne Valley Farmscape Ecology Program
*Catholic Charities Food Pantry, 431 East Allen Street, Monday 9 a.m. to noon, Wednesday noon to 5 p.m.
*Christ Episcopal Church Food Pantry, Christ Episcopal Church, 431 Union Street. Emergency food: Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
*Columbia Opportunities, 540 Columbia Street. Emergency food / problem solving: Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., serves all of Columbia County, 518-828-4611
*Rock Solid Church Food Pantry, Rock Solid Church, 334 Union Street, second and fourth Friday 10 a.m. to noon
*Salvation Army, 40 South Third Street, Tuesday 9 to 10 a.m., Friday 8 to 10 a.m.
*Traveling Pantry, All About Choices Building, 200 Fairview Avenue. For emergency food call 518-828-0620. Come once a week for food, clothing, household items, shoes, toys, Monday 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
*Zion Community Pantry, Bliss Towers, 41 North Second Street, second and fourth Tuesday 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.; first and third Friday noon to 2 p.m.
*Ancramdale Neighbors Helping Neighbors Association Food Pantry. Emergency and weekly food distribution to those in need in Ancram Township. For assistance call Jack Lindsey at 518-329-7306
*Chatham Area Silent Pantry, Tracy Memorial Village Hall basement, 77 Main Street, Monday, Tuesday, Friday 10 a.m. to noon, Thursday 5 to 6 p.m.
*Elizaville Food Pantry, Elizaville Methodist Church, 740 County Route 2, second Wednesday at 10 a.m., for residents of Clermont, Livingston, Gallatin and Tivoli.
*Germantown Community Cupboard, Dutch Reformed Church, 20 Church Avenue, Wednesday 2 to 6 p.m., for residents of Germantown School District and Tivoli.
*Ghent Food Pantry, Ghent Town Hall, 2306 Route 66, Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to noon, for residents of Ghent and Chatham School District
*Roe Jan Food Pantry, basement of the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office substation, 2684 State Route 23, Hillsdale, Friday 10 a.m. to noon, for residents of Taconic Hills School District.
*Charlie’s Pantry, Immaculate Conception Church, 732 Route 20, Tuesday 3 to 6 p.m., Saturday 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., for residents of New Lebanon School District
*Philmont/Mellenville Food Pantry, Claverack Town Hall, 91 Church Street, Tuesday 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. or by appointment, for residents of Claverack
*Church of St. Joseph Food Pantry, Church of St. Joseph, 2824 Atlantic Avenue, Friday (once/month) 4 to 5 p.m., for residents of the Stottville area.
*Valatie Ecumenical Food Pantry, First Presbyterian Church, 3212 Church Street, Monday noon to 2 p.m., Wednesday (first, third and last) 6 to 8 p.m., Saturday (second and fourth) 9 to 11 a.m., for residents of Ichabod Crane School District –Diane Valden