Fresh Food Pantry

Rescuing Food, Improving Health 
At Comfort Food Community’s Greenwich and Cossayuna Food Pantries, offering fresh produce has become a greater focus as the pantries have grown. Fresh produce is healthier, but more expensive, than nonperishable goods, which means many people experiencing food insecurity do not have access to it. This is even the case in Washington County, a prolific agricultural area.

We recognize this contradiction and, since our beginnings in 2014, have attempted to alleviate the problem by collecting and redistributing surplus produce from local farms, the Greenwich Community Garden, and home gardens.

Through this experience we discovered two things:

1) Low-income families love having access to fresh produce. Fresh produce now represents the majority of the food that we distribute through the Greenwich and Cossayuna Food Pantries.

2) There is more surplus food available at local farms and within the food system than we can distribute through our two pantries alone…a lot more…

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The Fresh Food Pantry is Born
We knew that surplus farm food could reach the beyond Greenwich and Cossayuna, but we didn’t have the resources or distribution network in place to realize that opportunity. That was until June 2016. At that point, we were introduced to Kathy Varney of Glens Falls Hospital. She is managing the NYS Department of Health’s “Creating Healthy Schools and Communities” grant, which seeks to make fresh food more available in target communities in Warren, Saratoga and Washington counties.  Through her work on the grant, she had developed relationships with community partners in those communities, had a sense of where sensible distribution locations would be and had funds available to invest in the infrastructure of a fresh food distribution network.

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The key investment in that infrastructure came in the form of an 8′ x 10′ x 10′ walk-in cooler.  The cooler is located at the rear of St. Joseph’s Hall, where their Greenwich Food Pantry operates out of, and provides CFC the storage capacity that it needed to harvest and store enough farm fresh produce to meet the needs of more communities.

In exchange for the purchase of the walk-in cooler, CFC, in partnership with Glens Falls Hospital, Washington County EOC and Family Services Association, committed to developing a distribution network for the additional food. The concept was to establish a delivery route that would make stops at key sites in the target communities.  Once we plotted those sites on the map, we realized that those stops could all be made on one day, in one delivery route. We timed out the distances between the stops, factored in the time that we would be set-up at each site (on average, 20 minutes) and then created our delivery schedule.

Our first distribution took place on August 12.IMG_20161014_134617138

We made 11 distribution runs over the course of the 2016 season.

We had 1,020 families visit us in those 11 distributions.

We distributed 6,833 lbs of food in those 11 distributions.

We want to bring the Fresh Food Pantry to any community where low-income households lack access to fresh food.

 

The Fresh Food Pantry in 2017
Beginning in July, the Fresh Food Pantry will be back on the road. We’ve made a few adjustments to our Washington County sites based on time and logistical considerations and will be making stops in Hudson Falls, Ft. Ann, Whitehall and Granville.

Food will continue to be delivered to Family Services Association on Wednesdays and be available through their Food Pantry. Family Services Association has also stepped up and offered to serve as a satellite storage location. This will serve as a critical link to reaching our two new Saratoga and Warren County communities in 2017 – Hadley, Lake Luzerne, Town of Day and Stony Creek. Those communities will travel down to Family Services in Glens Falls to pick up their “orders” and then make them available at the distribution sites that have been established in their communities.

As our supply of surplus food is never guaranteed – every season is different and yields very different amounts and varieties of food – all dates are contingent upon their being sufficient supply.

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Washington County Delivery Schedule

Click here for a .pdf version of the Washington County delivery flyer.

Click here for a .pdf version of the Warren/Saratoga County delivery flyer.

 

See the map below for each of our partners and stops along the delivery route: