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Wal-Mart Van Donation Helps Feed The Hungry in Rural New York

Posted on September 14, 2016 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Food Pantries Replace Dumpster Diving

Poor, disabled and isolated in upstate rural New York, Dave, 43, relied on dumpster diving and strangers’ leftovers for food.  That all changed when the Wal-Mart Foundation donated funds to Catholic Charities to buy a van that brings food to rural Ulster County parish food pantries  that serve Dave and thousands like him.

Isolated and Hard to Reach

The food pantry at the Church of St. Mary & St. Andrew in the small struggling town of Ellenville, population 5,000, is just one of the new van’s many beneficiaries.  With limited capacity, the pantry had difficulty stocking and providing local residents like Dave with food they need to survive. 

“Many thanks to Catholic Charities staff members and van for the delivery of large quantities of food on multiple occasions,” says Gail, a St. Mary’s food pantry volunteer. “These bulk deliveries keep the shelves full and allow for greater food distribution to all in need.”

Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS) operates a food pantry in rural Ulster County. This pantry provides approximately 66,000 meals each year to low-income, food-insecure families and individuals. Located in Kingston – a city of fewer than 25,000 residents – the pantry operates every Tuesday and Friday between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. year round. 2,750 households from across Ulster County rely upon the groceries provided by the pantry to provide for their families’ nutritional needs.

No more U-Hauls   

CCCS’ Kingston pantry obtains most of its food from the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York’s Latham center or Cornwall satellite location, driving roundtrip between 90 miles and 140 miles depending on the location. In the past, staff used personal vehicles to pick up food and stock the food pantry. When that vehicle ceased to be serviceable, a U-Haul truck was rented to obtain and deliver food. Now, thanks to the van, Catholic Charities has a dedicated vehicle to pick up food and deliver it to our food distribution sites.

Sharing 1000s of Pounds of Food

Yes; it’s just one van.  But it has already helps in small ways and large.  One of its greatest recent successes came over the weekend of June 25-26, 2016, when Catholic Charities Community Services received 8,617 pounds of food during the iHeartMedia of the Hudson Valley and Claudio Cares Foundation’s “Stuff the Bus” food drive. Catholic Charities volunteers helped to sort and package food items received during the drive. The food drive took place over a three-county area, and with the newly purchased van, over 2,000 pounds of food was delivered to Ulster County food pantries. The van logged over 100 miles to pick up and make deliveries of food during this weekend alone.

While Dave is disabled, many served by Catholic Charities are members of the working poor. They work one full-time job, sometimes two, yet still struggle to feed their families.   Thanks to this new van donated through a partnership between Catholic Charities USA and the Wal-Mart Foundation, Catholic Charities has  been to extend its reach in rural Ulster County.

Dave no longer has to dumpster dive.  He gets the food he needs thanks to Catholic Charities, local parish food pantries and the new van donated by the Wal-Mart Foundation.

Are you or someone you know hungry and needing help?

Contact Catholic Charities to find food pantries near you.