Pastors, volunteers from many Lyndonville churches make food distributions happen

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 16 December 2022 at 2:04 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – Don Melfi gathers bags of oranges to give to people in this morning’s food distribution at the Lyndonville Presbyterian Church’s parking lot.

There were bags and boxes of food for about 250 families. The church has hosted the distributions for most of the Covid pandemic and has a food pantry for years before Covid hit in March 2020.

Kyle Sentiff, 27, collects squash and other vegetables for one of the vehicles. The distribution was scheduled to start at 8:30, but icy roads delayed the FoodLink truck until about 9:30. Many of the people showed up very early for the distribution and waited two hours of more.

Sentiff is an elder at the Presbyterian Church. He likes to volunteer at the distributions when he has a day off.

“I’m just here to help when I can,” he said. “It’s great to see the churches step up for the community.”

FoodLink will continue the distributions in Lyndonville until at least June. The upcoming schedule includes Jan. 13, Feb. 3, March 3, March 24, April 7, April 21, May 5, May 19, June 2 and June 23.

Craig Rhodenizer (in back with beard) is pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church on Route 18 in Yates. He leads the group in a prayer before the distribution. Rhodenizer asked for God’s blessing on the people lined up receiving the food, and for others who need the food but weren’t able to be there that morning. Jim Wells, one of the volunteers, is at right.

Other pastors at the distribution this morning included Lyle Drake of the Yates Baptist Church and Tim Schultz of the Lyndonville United Methodist Church. Martha Mitchell of the Presbyterian Church is usually at the events as well.

Schultz lives across the street from the Presbyterian Church and he some of the cars start showing up at 4 in the morning for the distributions. He is impressed the volunteers are so dependable, even when it’s cold and icy.

“It does amaze me how the volunteers just show up in the inclement weather,” he said.

Pastor Lyle Drake grabs bottles of salsa during the morning’s distribution.

Pat Wilcox lifts a bag of oranges for the distribution. She recently starting volunteering after retiring from LynOaken Farms.

“I enjoy it,” she said. “People need help and I can do something, and you meet a lot of other people.”

DeeAnn Diermyer, left, and her sister Denise Adams, both of Medina, were up early to help with the distribution. Diermyer has volunteered at the events since they started, and also has helped run the food pantry at the Lyndonville Presbyterian Church for 13 years. She attends the United Methodist Church.

Diermyer said many local residents are struggling to pay their bills and are relying on the distributions and food pantries.

“The people are more in need now,” she said. “The prices are so high right now.”

Gary Daum has been volunteering at the distributions for about two years. He was at the spot with potatoes grown by Triple G Farms of Barre. Daum said he sees many senior citizens at the distirbutions. They pick up food not only for themselves but for friends who don’t drive or who can’t make it in person.