After 14-plus months and many long lines of cars, food distribution program ends

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 June 2021 at 2:47 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

RIDGEWAY – Volunteers were busy this morning at the parking lot of the Ridgeway fire hall, packing boxes of produce, crackers, tortilla wraps, macaroni and cheese and other food.

Donna Poore, second from left, is coordinator of the food pantry at the Calvary Tabernacle Church in Medina. She led a team of volunteers this morning from the church, other food pantries in Medina and a group of employees from the Iroquois Job Corps.

Today was the last scheduled food distribution. Since April 2020, at least 300 boxes of food were available at distributions that have been in Albion, Ridgeway, Knowlesville (4-H Fairgrounds) and occasionally at Holley and Clarendon. The program was funded through the federal Department of Agriculture.

But the USDA announced the “Families Food Box Program” program wouldn’t be continuing. The program has had five rounds and delivered 157.1 million boxes of fresh produce, milk, dairy and cooked meats to Americans across the country since last April.

There was a long line of vehicles down Horan Road leading to the fire hall. This photo was taken at about 8 this morning. Many of the vehicles started to line up by 6 a.m.

Two local senior citizens were the first two vehicles to arrive. They waited more than two hours for the distribution to start.

The first woman was from Albion. She went to a distribution event about once a month.

“It has been very helpful for me being on a fixed income, especially with the cost of food and gas and everything going up,” she said.

She said she is an early riser and didn’t mind getting in line early. The weather is warmer now and the sun comes up earlier, compared to the winter.

The Office for the Aging in Orleans County, Community Action of Orleans & Genesee, the Calvary Tabernacle Church in Medina and Cornell Cooperative Extension all took the lead running different distributions. Residents can still go to local pantries if they need food.

A Lyndonville senior citizen estimated the value of food was often about $75 at the distributions. She would arrive early and crochet. She would talk with a friend who was also in line using her speaker phone.

“This was a great thing,” she said about the distributions. “It helped a lot of people, and not just the senior citizens. There are so many people who ended up without a job. I hope for the younger families they can find a way to keep it going.”

Curt Strickland, one of the volunteers this morning, eyes all the boxes of food and tries to help determine how much each vehicle should get. The volunteers had to rebox many of the items, with an assortment of Romaine lettuce, Brussels Sprouts, crackers, oranges, tortilla wraps, macaroni and cheese, and other food.

Before the distribution started, the group paused for a prayer.

Mike Jagger, one of the volunteers from Calvary, said the church was grateful to be a part of the distributions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s just helping people,” he said.