More than 2,300 people in Cortland County were looking for work in May, and that’s down from 3,200 in April — the worst unemployment in 30 years of recorded data.
It can be hard to make ends meet, even with unemployment benefits, so the drive-through food pantry that opened Wednesday in Cortlandville helps meet a need, said Susan Williams, assistant director of the Seven Valleys Health Coalition.
“It’s good to see a wide variety of food pantries in the county,” Williams said. “Transportation, especially in rural areas, becomes vital for providing food to families. There is a higher rate of involvement from food pantries.”
The First United Methodist Church on Wednesday started a drive-through food pantry service that will operate 3:30 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays. The church’s pantry had shut down with the arrival of the coronavirus.
The distribution ranges from a box for one to two people to several for families of five or more, including, for example, a variety of fruits and vegetables, milk, bread, soup, pasta, ground turkey and more.
“The churches in this area stand to help out the community,” the Rev. Eunice Kim said. “My mission statement is to be connected with our community. We have to take action by helping out people.”
The church collects for the food pantry. Organizers use the money to buy food at local grocery stores.
“The larger the family, the more we do,” said Nancy Space, one of the organizers of the food pantry. “Families can even choose and replace what products they want in their box.”
“We try to have a fair share on hand,” Space said. “We serve everyone that comes. It’s important.”
People who have been out of work “are surprised financially when it comes to getting groceries,” Williams said. “(Food pantries) become an extremely important safety net, and help people provide for themselves and their families.”
“When you think of others in a pandemic, some families struggle to make ends meet when it comes to putting food on the table. Seeing empty shelves (during the pandemic) at grocery stores is even more difficult to process.”
That’s why food pantries are so important, she said.
“It helps stretch their food dollars a bit,” Space said.
If you’re hungry
Cortland County food pantries:
- Bible Baptist Church, Cortland, 7567716
- First United Methodist Church, Cortland, 756-4526
- Catholic Charities, Cortland, 756-5992
- Cortland Chenango Rural Services, Cincinnatus, 863-3828
- Harmony Helping Hands at United Methodist Church, Harford, 844-4269
- Helping Hands at Cortland Nutrition Program, 753-5061
- Food Pantry at Homer Methodist Church, 749-3260
- Loaves and Fishes at Grace and Holy Spirit Church, Cortland, 756-6195
- Marathon Food Pantry at Town Hall, 423-8768
- Community Food Pantry at McGraw Methodist Church, 836-6802
- Food Giveaway at McLean Community Church, 838-8234
- Preble Calvary Baptist Church, 7458459
- Salvation Army, Cortland, 753-9363
- Scott United Methodist Church, 7497780
- The Chapel, Cortland, 299-4873
- Food Pantry at Truxton United Methodist Church, 753-5060
- The Lord’s Cupboard at Virgil United Methodist Church, 857-3556
- Willet Food Pantry at Town Hall, 7535060
— SOURCE: Cortland County 211