Groton Food Pantry gears up for “Can-struction”

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After three months “on the job,” Groton Food Pantry coordinator, Jess Stone, has a good handle on where the pantry is at and where it needs to go to meet the growing needs of its community members.


Stone, her husband, Mike, and all six of their children began a new family endeavor this past January, with all of them serving at the GFP in The Joyce Crouch Benevolence Building at 701 S. Main St. So far, they are each finding their own niche in the operation, and really enjoying it.


At this juncture, Stone said she feels “incredibly blessed by the positive feedback I am getting from people as I get to know them and see how excited they are about what they get to leave with when they come here.”


As she has come to realize just how much the GFP is needed by the community, Stone has equally realized how much is needed “from” the community to make the pantry successful and to meet or exceed the needs of those who use it.
To that end, Stone has been brainstorming ideas to bring more donations in, one of which is her plan to hold a “can-struction” event. “Right now, I am hoping to have the event take place at the end of April or beginning of May, and I would like to have volunteers who would like to help plan and organize it,” said Stone.


The concept behind it is that different groups within the community would hold their own individual canned food drives, bring the canned goods to a central location, and compete with the other groups by creating a unique structure out of them. There will be judges to choose the most unique, a prize would be awarded to the winning team, and all the canned goods would then be donated to the GFP.


The Food Bank of the Southern Tier (FBST) is the main source of the food that is given away, but it must be purchased with grant money from the government or other sources. Stone explained that she can obtain quite a bit of fresh produce and certain types of meat with the grant money allotted, but everything above and beyond that must be either purchased or donated.


“We survive on donations,” Stone said, “because the canned goods are some of the more expensive items that I purchase, so the more of those that can be donated, the more I am able to use cash donations for some of the meat and other products not covered by grant money.”


Stone shared how excited she is about another double-door refrigerator that would be delivered by the FBST that was made available to her because she wants to be able to provide as much fresh and healthy options to the GFP patrons as possible.


Stone created a “Groton Food Providers” Facebook page just this week, where she hopes she can engage more people. The first post is a goal to receive 1,000 cans of vegetables before the next pantry day. She is asking the public to bring them to her on April 9 or 10. Contact her on the page or call (607) 592-4825.
Patrons of the pantry can check the page often, as Stone plans to use it to let people know ahead of time about some of the special items that will be available on Saturday giveaway days. The GFP is accessible to any Groton town or village resident, beginning at 10 a.m. every second and fourth Saturday of each month, providing free food until 11:30 a.m.


Stone would also like to have more volunteers to help with some of the tasks that need to be done aside from the Saturday giveaways, such as delivering food boxes to the elderly, helping to unload the food deliveries on Monday mornings, stocking the food on the pantry shelves, mailing forms, cleaning, and updating and maintaining the outdoor flower beds. There is also a need for substitute delivery and/or Saturday giveaway volunteers for times when regulars are not available.


Even more volunteers will be needed this summer, as Stone plans to partner with Compassion Coalition in Utica, NY to provide personal care and household products for the patrons of the GFP. Stone has made it her mission to find ways to expand the offerings at the pantry, and this is one of them.


If the “can-struction” project interests you, either to help or to enter your “can-struction” team, or to volunteer in any other way, contact Jess on Facebook or at the number above. Donations of canned or other non-perishable food are always welcome, as are cash donations of any amount. Checks may be made out to Groton Food Providers, 701 S. Main St., Groton, NY 13073.


Groton on the Inside appears weekly. Submit news ideas to Linda Competillo, lmc10@cornell.edu or (607) 227-4922.

In brief:

Benefit for Bruce Graham
Stonehedges Golf Course, 549 Stevens Road, will be the venue for a benefit for Bruce Graham and his family on Saturday, April 6 from 2 to 5 p.m. There will be raffles, a silent auction, a DJ, and a food truck. Cash and local checks only, please.


Graham, who suffered a “widow maker” cardiac arrest on Jan. 3 of this year, requires 24-hour care and intense cognitive therapy for the next six to 12 months. This benefit is another great Groton opportunity to help Graham, his wife Loretta, and their three daughters, as they navigate this “new normal” in their lives.


Pork ribs – country style!
The McLean Community Church, 50 Church St., will host a pork rib dinner from 4:30 p.m. until gone Saturday, April 13, sponsored by McLean Church Women’s Fellowship.


Country-style pork ribs, garlic mashed potatoes, vegetable medley, tossed salad, rolls and butter, beverages, and homemade cake will be served, and they will also have take-out meals available.


Cost for adults is $10, children age six through 12 are $5, and all children five and under may eat for free.

Clothing Closet Grand Opening
The Clothing Closet, 160 Main St. (in the Open Door), will celebrate its new location with a special grand opening celebration from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturday, April 13.


The CC is regularly open from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. every second and fourth Saturday of the month and will be adding those same hours on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month beginning April 10.


Donations of clean and presentable clothing are accepted for all ages, infants through adults, primarily during the hours the Closet is open, but messages may be left at (607) 898-5263, ext. 615, to make possible other arrangements for drop-off, or for any other messages.

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