Medina Food Pantry celebrates 40 years of service to community

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 26 May 2022 at 7:30 am

Photos by Ginny Kropf: The Rev. Sohail Akhtar, pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Medina, gives a blessing at a luncheon Tuesday in celebration of the Medina Food Pantry’s 40th anniversary. “You are exhibiting God’s love by running this food pantry,” he told the volunteers of the pantry.

MEDINA – Forty years ago, three local clergy teamed up to start an enduring program to help the people of the Medina area.

That program would become the Medina Food Pantry, which on Tuesday was celebrated 40 years with a luncheon at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church.

Jane Stroyan, a member of St. Peter’s Church Council, welcomed the volunteers, saying it was amazing that this group kept the food pantry open during a global pandemic.

“Being 77 years old, and with a couple of underlying conditions, I sheltered and stayed safe,” Stroyan said. “But you folks stayed strong. You showed up. You put on your masks protecting yourselves and others, and made sure our Medina residents in need got food and understood they were not alone.”

Stroyan commended Hancock, Robin and Denny Dubai, Sally Grimm, Diane Mazur and the others who kept the pantry staffed and stocked with foods for those who needed it.

Also honored was Jim Hancock, a member of St. Peter’s Church and the only person still involved from the pantry’s early days.

“Jim Hancock has been with the food pantry for the entire 40 years of its existence,” Stroyan said. “Volunteering for that length of time is laudable and quite amazing. The Church Council of St. Peter’s thanks Jim for this accomplishment and so much more.”

In 1982, Hancock said Medina had a Medina Clergy Fellowship which helped people who needed food, gas or money. At that time, three local pastors, the Rev. Ron Haefer of St. Peter’s, the Rev. Benjamin Moss from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and the Rev. George Yiengst from St. Mary’s started talking about what they could do to help the community.

Jane Stroyan, a member of St. Peter’s Church Council and volunteer at the Medina Food Pantry, presents a gift to Jim Hancock, who was involved in forming the food pantry 40 years ago.

The result was the founding of a food pantry. Their first referrals came from the Medina Clergy Fellowship, Hancock said. Most of their donations of food came from local churches.

As the need for the food pantry grew, they organized and in 1991 formed a board of directors and adopted a constitution and bylaws. It became known as the Medina Emergency Food Pantry. Board members came from different churches, but were overseen by St. Peter’s, Hancock said.

In those years, St. Peter’s had a parsonage next to the church, which was used for Sunday School and the kitchen became home to the food pantry.

From 1982 to 1989, the food pantry was moved to the basement of the church, then moved back to the parsonage until 1999. Then the church was planning an addition and the parsonage was torn down. The food pantry was relocated to Calvary Tabernacle Assembly of God during 2000 and 2001.

“The addition was completed in 2002 and the food pantry moved back from Calvary Tabernacle, and it’s been here ever since,” Hancock said.

The Medina Food Pantry serves needy residents in the village of Medina and the towns of Shelby and Ridgeway. There is no income requirement, only proof of residing in the 14103 zip code. Occasionally, families from Middleport, Lyndonville and Albion will be served on a one-time basis, then they are referred back to their home town.

Sally Grimm reads the names of volunteers who have been dedicated to the Medina Food Pantry in recent years.

Each of those towns also has a food pantry, Hancock said.

The Medina Food Pantry was open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday until the pandemic, and since then, is open from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday and Thursday.

“We are very blessed that many people in the community donate generously to us,” Hancock said. “In addition, United Way of Orleans County and Food Link in Rochester have been a big help.”

St. Peter’s pastor, the Rev. Sohail Akhtar, said thousands of people have benefitted from this food pantry.

“You are exhibiting God’s love by running this food pantry,” he said. “Jim has done wonderful work – for the pantry and the church.”

Sally Grimm said some of the volunteers have been the glue which kept the food pantry going. She named Robin and Denny Dubai, Diane Mazur, Bob Hoffman and Michelle Capstick.

Hancock called Tuesday “a momentous day in the life of this church.”

“Forty years later, we are here celebrating our history,” he said.