Sisters of St. Joseph of CarondeletJune 18, 2019

Earth Concerns News

Face of Food Pantries Changes Dramatically by Sister Mary Ellen Putnam, CSJ

When the Home/Land Committee met in November, each member picked a topic for the monthly Carondelet East. Our focus this year is on food sustainability. Since I was a volunteer in the Food Pantry in St. Mary=s, Ballston Spa in the 1990s, I felt I knew first hand about this topic. Surprise! It is now the 2000s, and the face of food pantries has changed drastically.

Brew yourself a cup of tea, and come let me tell you a story. It=s a Friday afternoon and a well-dressed woman comes into your food pantry. She seems uncomfortable and unsure about this program. In an effort to make her feel welcome, you ask how she is. Suddenly, she begins to sob and pours out her heartache.

AI=m 35-years old and have a nine-year old son and a twelve-year old daughter,@ she says. AMy husband had a good-paying job as a computer analysis. On Monday, he was called into the office and was told his company is downsizing. Now, we have to move to another state, or he will just lose his job. It is so hard to find work today.@

She takes a deep breath and continues, AOur children go to the local school here in town.

They don=t know I came here today and would be embarrassed if their friends find out. They=re such good kids. I can=t imagine moving them to another school.@

She stops to dry her tears. AI work as a receptionist in a doctor=s office in town, but my salary isn=t enough to pay our bills. Our health insurance was covered under my husband=s policy, so I don=t know what we=ll do now. I just need some food to get us through until I get paid next week. The nurse in the office told me to come here, and you would help me.@

Our food pantries function because people bring food to their local churches or drop-off sites. What kind of food do they need? The pantries are always in need of the following: cans with pull-top lids, non-perishable foods such as peanut butter, jelly, tuna fish, macaroni, canned meat, cereal, crackers, juices and baby food and plastic utensils.

To my utter amazement I learned that today=s food pantries also offer diapers, baby wipes, formula, tooth brushes and tooth paste and personal items such as deodorant, powder, soap, shampoo and toilet paper.

Food and supplies are always needed but especially during the holidays, winter months and school vacations. While children are in school, they get breakfast and lunch, but many don=t eat three meals a day when they are on vacations.

The next time you are at the dollar store, throw a couple of extras in your cart. When I was growing up, my mother always said I should think of the poor, hungry kids in China. Today, just think of that nice man who works at the Price Chopper who might stop by your food pantry on his way home, so that he can feed his family tonight.


(March 2007)