Whitehall food pantry director reports significant progress in food collection

B y Lee Tugas

In September, when Donna Gorton was appointed the new director of the Whitehall Food Pantry, she said her goal was to seek out new sources of food.

She specifically meant a formal connection with the Albany Food Bank. That hasn’t happened yet, but a lot of other food from other sources has been donated.

First, in December, Canadian Pacific promised to donate $1,500 to the pantry, even though its Holiday Train would by-pass Whitehall that year.

Before Canadian Pacific said it would continue its annual monetary contribution, concerned village residents held a holiday-themed event in Veterans Memorial Park to benefit the pantry.

Then village police vowed to fill a patrol car with food for the pantry, while they also collected clothing for the Washington County Economic Opportunity Council.

All three sources of food have proven fruitful. Besides the Canadian Pacific contribution, Village Police Chief Matt Dickinson recently reported his department had filled a patrol car with 500 pounds of food. Dickinson said the event in Veterans Park had netted a similar amount of food.

Dickinson hopes to stage a three-way contest in June between state police, Washington County sheriff’s deputies and village police. That contest could yield 1,500 pounds of food, enough to fill three patrol cars.

If Dickinson’s plan proves successful, that goal of 1,500 pounds of food will buttress other food sources that already serve the pantry, which serves 184 families and which is currently open on Thursday from noon to 2 p.m.

Gorton said traditional sources for the pantry include Community Action in Glens Falls, which donates food once a month; a local Postal Service Drive; a local Stewart’s match; Boy and Girl Scout contributions, and donations from the Knights of Columbus.

A private source is Jeff and Dawn Howland, who donate Friehofer goods at their own expenses since Howland drives for Friehofer, Gorton said.

Taken all together, the food bank has increased its food sources from five to eight and is seeking more. Gorton said discussions with the Albany Food Bank were “still in the works.”

Looking at the progress made since September, Gorton expressed gratitude to all donors.

“I think it’s been a really good thing. The people have stepped up, and to me it has come a long way in a short time,” Gorton said.

 

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