Ending local hunger, one meal at a time

March 28, 2018

Presenting the check to the Northtowns Food Pantry. Photo courtesy Ken-Ton CROP Hunger Walk.

Each year, CROP Hunger Walks across the United States support neighbors near and far to overcome hunger and poverty. While a majority of funds goes to addressing global hunger, each Walk also chooses local hunger-fighting agencies to support with a grant. Each year, more than 1,500 agencies across the United States receive over $2 million in grants to support their work. 

The following letter was received by the team at the Ken-Ton CROP Hunger Walk in upstate New York. 

Dear Ken-Ton CROP Walk,

On behalf of the Northwest Food Pantry we would like to thank you for your very generous donation. It’s been a little over a month since we received your check. We debated how to best use the donation. We had thought about saving most of it to use to provide holiday meals for our families. Since receiving the donation our plan totally changed.

We noted a significant drop in the variety of foods we could offer after the first of the year. Donations to the food bank drop dramatically after the holidays so what they can offer also changes. We have divided the check into weekly allotments. Each week we purchase items that we are not able to order through the Western New York Food Bank.

We were having difficulty finding sources of protein, fresh fruits and vegetables. With the funding you’ve provided we have been able to set up a weekly order with the Entennmans outlet for bread and bagels. We are able to work with one of the produce sellers at the local farmer’s market to purchase fresh fruit at the end of the day. We have three families with small children who have been thrilled every time we can provide oranges. We also purchase eggs, ground turkey and ground beef from whichever grocer is cheapest that week. With these weekly purchases we’ve been able to provide better choices for meal planning. Our families are very appreciative of the fresh meat and produce. Many of them have expressed that other pantries don’t give those options.

With the staples we can get from the food bank, and what we can purchase, we have been helping our families plan meals. We’ve discovered that many of our families really don’t know how to plan healthy meals. It’s been very fulfilling for us to help them see how the items we can purchase, combined with the canned and boxed foods, can turn into a satisfying meal. We have even started printing up recipes that are simple and use the items we can provide.

I’m not sure how many of you are numbers people but here are our statistics. We officially opened in mid-September. Our numbers drop during the school breaks (we are still open and so far, have always had people utilize the pantry over breaks.) We have served 184 households, 568 individuals and 5,112 meals.

In addition to the actual families we are serving, operating the pantry has brought a new awareness of hunger to the staff and students in our building .So many of our students felt hunger/food pantries were something that only poorer communities needed. Our students now regularly, help our elderly get boxes to their cars. They have also become more aware of the needs of their peers and even some of their own families members have made referrals to use so we could reach out and offer assistance.

Thank you, on behalf of all of us and the families we serve, for helping us make our pantry vision a reality for those in our community. We have received enormous support from organizations such as yours and the few community groups that use the building in the evening. You make our jobs here so much easier.

With Heartfelt Gratitude,

Julie Murray
Northtowns Academy Food Pantry