Responding to the need: Donors fill trucks at mall to help food pantryThe need for food pantry donations is higher than ever this year, officials said, and this winter the need will likely be even greater. Residents of nine counties utilize the services offered at Community Action, including about 100 households that receive food assistance each month, said Amy Dunwoody, food pantry coordinator.
By: Katie Ryan, The Jamestown Sun
The need for food pantry donations is higher than ever this year, officials said, and this winter the need will likely be even greater.
Residents of nine counties utilize the services offered at Community Action, including about 100 households that receive food assistance each month, said Amy Dunwoody, food pantry coordinator.
That number will likely increase as temperatures decrease, she said.
Donations increase around the holidays, but in other months, they tend to drop off.
“It seems like we have a lot,” Dunwoody said of the crates of orange juice, boxes of cereal and pouches of noodles, “but it’s never enough.”
That’s why the Buffalo Mall held its second annual food drive called Treat the Trucks and Stock the Shelves last month. Donors were asked to fill three pickups, one from Lloyds Motors, R.M. Stoudt, Inc. and DonWilhelm, Inc., with nonperishable items.
Mall and car dealer employees delivered the items to Community Action Thursday.
The drive is a way to give back to the community, said Shirley Jackson, manager of Riddle’s Jewelry.
“I’m a grandmother. I just want to help. I have a grandmother instinct, I just hate to see any child be hungry,” she said.
Sometimes food pantries are criticized for enabling the residents who use them, Dunwoody said. Meaning, people rely on the food pantry for meals instead of finding work, saving money or taking other measures to feed themselves without assistance. Dunwoody said she understands the argument, but she disagrees.
“Maybe those people that are saying that is someone who never needed the food pantry, and thank God,” she said.
Dunwoody said she tries not to judge.
When people receive food pantry assistance, many times it’s because they have problems paying other bills like utility costs or medication, she said. If the food pantry can assist with one need, then the household can spend its money on the other needs.
“If I can take that worry away from them with a food basket, then why not?” she said.
Many of the households receiving assistance are larger families or single-parent homes, Dunwoody said. Other times, the households are individuals or two-person homes.
Sometimes, the residents receiving assistance are regulars, she said, but more than half receive assistance only temporarily.
The reason for the need varies, Dunwoody said. For some, they need assistance because they’re sick or getting back on their feet after mental health or substance abuse treatment. Others require assistance because they lost a job or their number of hours was reduced at work.
“They’re tentative about coming in,” she said of many of the households who receive assistance. “They’re embarrassed.”
Many times, families who receive assistance from the food pantry give back to it once they’ve bettered their financial situation, Dunwoody said.
Donors to the food drive at Buffalo Mall included merchants, store employees and mall patrons, said Kim Diede, administrative assistant.
“It’s our community too and we have to pull together,” she said.
Matt Eggl, manager at Anytime Fitness, helped spend some of the $350 that the drive received in cash donations.
Anytime Fitness got involved because the company encourages healthy lifestyles, Eggl said. Helping people is one way to do that, he said.
The Treat the Trucks and Stock the Shelves drive ended Wednesday, but donations are still accepted at Community Action, Dunwoody said. In addition to donations, the organization can also use volunteers to help sort and distribute pantry items throughout the year.
If you or someone you know needs food pantry assistance, contact Community Action at 252-1821.
Sun reporter Katie Ryan can be reached at 701-952-8454
or by e-mail at