Despite heroic efforts by our 23 food pantries, Otsego County has a food insecurity problem.

That’s where the Community Foundation of Otsego County came in. Serving as a neutral convener, we helped bring together food pantries and other related organizations to discover where collaboration can be effective.

The Hunger Coalition of Otsego County and the Community Foundation held a Food Pantry Round Table at the Milford United Methodist Church on July 27. Representatives of many Otsego County food pantries attended to discuss their challenges, needs, and goals.

For two hours the pantries shared their stories. They discovered common threads: the need for volunteers, the desire to increase food delivery to those who can’t get to their local pantries, and, for some, the need for bags and refrigeration.

An immediate benefit of the gathering was that two participants, Paul Landers, CEO of Pathfinder Village, and Art Klingler, NYSEG Program Manager; Government and Community Relations, were able to offer volunteers through their agencies.

Each food pantry representative spoke about helping more of those in need, and shared ideas on increasing publicity to get people who need food to come to their local pantry. They noted that many of those who require help are senior citizens living alone who have a hard time getting help they need.

Rod Klafehn of St. Matthew Lutheran Food Pantry, serving the Laurens School District, offered insight to help pantries address their ongoing needs: 

  1. Know your people
  2. Know your limitations and capabilities
  3. Meet people where they are

From six days per week, to one day per week, to one day per month, our county food pantries work hard to battle food insecurity. From Edmeston to Oneonta, from Cherry Valley to Unadilla, and all points in between, the pantries also face increasing demand.

As the first Round Table closed there was a new understanding that working together would benefit all food pantries, an important move forward towards more efficient use of resources and avoiding duplication of services.

A second Round Table, organized by Maggie Johnson of the Edmeston Community Cupboard, will be held September 21 at 3 PM, in the community room at the Southside Mall. The meeting is open to all those participating in feeding programs in Otsego County.

It’s going to take all of us to help solve hunger problems.

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