B y Dan King

It’s been busy at the Whitehall Food Pantry, and because of that, the need is high.

Currently the staff of five dedicated workers is looking for donations of peas, green beans, corn, cereal, rice, ravioli, peanut butter, jelly, coup, canned fruit, mac and cheese, instant potatoes, pasta and spaghetti sauce.

“Usually our busiest weeks are the last week of the month and the first week of the month,” said volunteer Marie Monty. “It’s based on when people’s funds are available.”

The hard-working staff puts together bundles of food, ranging from small ones that are intended for individuals to larger ones for families of five or more. Theoretically, each bundle should last about 2-3 days and is intended as a supplement to other means, such as food stamps and social security. The pantry is open to anyone in Whitehall, Dresden, Clemons and the Comstock area.

“We try to encourage people to come every month,” Monty added.

It’s not only those who use the pantry that the volunteers embrace with open arms, however.

Pat Neddo has been doing community service with the pantry following a DWI conviction. She’s come to enjoy the volunteering so much that she has decided she will continue to help out, even after her community service time is done.

“These girls have welcomed me here with open arms,” Neddo said. “I really appreciate what they do here and I’ll continue to help when my time is up.”

In addition to Neddo and Monty, the food pantry received assistance from volunteers Gloria Perry and Pat Norton, as well as director Ruth Scribner.

“We have some very dedicated and faithful people who donate regularly,” Scribner said. “The Catholic Church is a huge help too, with their drop bin.”

The food pantry recently obtained 501(c)3 status and is awaiting a stamp from the regional food bank, which will increase the pantry’s purchasing power greatly. Whitehall-based attorney Harold Nicholson assisted the pantry in submitting the paper work to receive the status, Scribner said.

“We’re just waiting for that magic moment,” Monty added.

While the food pantry is open to everyone in the community, there are certain demographics that tend to frequent the pantry more often.

“Right now we get a lot of younger people coming in,” Scribner said. “A lot of the older ones don’t have transportation, or have too much pride to come use the food pantry. They say ‘give it to someone who needs it more,’ but we don’t want people thinking that way – if you need it, you need it.”

The Whitehall Food Pantry is open noon to 2 p.m. on Thursdays. Anyone who would like to volunteer at the pantry should call 518-499-2039. The pantry is located at the Whitehall United Methodist Church on Greenmount Cemetery Lane.

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