ELDRED, NY — The idea was birthed before the coronavirus struck, but it couldn’t be more timely.
The leadership of the Eldred Congregational Church was searching for a way to meet needs in their community using the limited resources they had. Looking at their location, directly across from Pecks Market where people come to purchase provisions, it occurred to them that their location was perfect for establishing a mini-food pantry.
The concept is taking hold in many communities and is fashioned after the mini-libraries that offer “take a book, leave a book” service. For the mini-food pantry, the community will be invited to “take what you need, leave what you can.” The anonymity of the process allows for the needs of neighbors to be met without any fuss.
Originally thought to be a ministry to be funded and monitored solely by members of the church, the community will be invited to also leave canned and dry goods and personal care products as neighbor helps neighbor.
During the current crisis, many in the community desire to lend a hand but don’t know how to go about it. Leaving a can of tuna or a container of peanut butter is a small way to play a part.
Others in the community who feel a pang of conscience about receiving stimulus checks when they’re not feeling any economic setback can set aside a few dollars to make additional food purchases so that their neighbors can alleviate some of their food insecurity.
The project will continue long after the current crisis is a memory because, just as the need existed previously, it will continue.
As one does their grocery shopping, the pantry can be supplied with the same goodies one would buy to satisfy their own family’s needs.
The food pantry was mounted and initially stocked during the same time period that, under normal conditions, worship services would be conducted at the church.
Richard Watts of Barryville, an employee at Young Life Lake Champion in Glen Spey, generously donated his time to construct the pantry and situate it at the end of the church driveway, highly visible between the Eldred Post Office and the Highland Town Hall.
Highland Code Enforcement Officer Dave Preston was consulted about the feasibility of the project at its inception and was on hand to approve its location, as was Highland councilman Jim Hanson.
Rev. Susan Storms, pastor of the Eldred Congregational Church, said that in sponsoring the mini-food pantry, her congregation remembered that when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He responded with two declarations, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Said Storms, the mini-food pantry is an opportunity to fulfill that second greatest commandment.
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