GREAT VALLEY — After a little more than two months, the new Great Valley food pantry located at the town hall has been a bitter-sweet success.
Pantry organizer Josh Bower, of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Ellicottville, told the board the pantry is currently serving 21 households from Cattaraugus County, primarily in Great Valley, with 56 people benefiting from the pantry. He said family size varies from one to eight.
“Of those 21 families, a lot of them are one person, but there are some younger families that are quite large, so they’re benefiting as well,” he added.
During the first couple of months, Bower said the pantry served an average of 30 people per week.
“It was something that was needed in the area, and we’re very thankful we were able to start it here,” he said.
Bower said the town hall has been the perfect space for the pantry. “We set this space up like a little grocery store the last two Saturdays of the month, and people come in and can walk through,” he added.
For Thanksgiving, a small freezer was added to the pantry with ground beef, turkey and other meat proteins that people could choose from other than boxed or canned nonperishables. For the Christmas season, he said the church is doing a ham drive for the pantry.
“We gave thanksgiving meals to 12 families this year,” Bower said. “Christmas distribution is going to be on Dec. 21.”
Two new shelving units have been purchased to help the hallway area where the food is stored be more organized.
“I’m very delighted that this is working and it filling a need, but if this becomes a more permanent thing, we may have to do some remodeling here and make permanent storage for this pantry,” said Town Supervisor Dan Brown.
The pantry has to run independently for six months to show there is a need for it in the community before it can begin receiving assistance from the New York state program, Bower explained, which would be in the spring.
“The Western New York Food Bank is where we would be getting the assistance from,” he said. “Once the six months are up, then we can apply to become a member agency and that would open the door to a lot more food resources … and a lot more opportunities for grants.”