Farm to Food Pantry Collaborative

Gleaning for local food pantries at Whirligig Farm, 2014
Gleaning for local food pantries at Whirligig Farm, 2014

39 John St.
Kingston, NY 12401
(845) 331-7080 ext 157

Staff: 3 part-time

Program Director: Beth McLendon Albright

Program Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00am-4:00pm

PRIMARY FUNCTIONS: In collaboration with the Rondout Valley Growers Association, UlsterCorps and the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, the program addresses food insecurity by engaging local farmers to donate locally grown produce and training volunteers to glean, process and distribute nutritious food to the network food pantries, feeding programs and shelters in Ulster and surrounding counties.

ANCILLARY SERVICES: The collaborative increases the nutritious food available to local food pantries throughout the County; expands the availability of nutritious meals for children during the summer; increases the capacity for storage and distribution, both centrally and for individual pantries; decreases the amount of food discarded or wasted; develops new relationships which make additional food available; distributes food through the Feeding America program; informs the community of the availability of food resources by maintaining a current map of food pantries throughout the county in English and Spanish and improves communication and coordination between countywide and local providers.

Interactive Google Map of Ulster County Food Pantries with hours. Developed by UlsterCorps & Family of Woodstock, 2016-2020.
Interactive Google Map of Ulster County Food Pantries with hours. Developed by UlsterCorps & Family of Woodstock, 2016-2019.

RECENT ACCOMPLISHMENTS:

The collaborative has been working to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, food insecurity in Ulster County. Starting in 2009, the group has gleaned, collected and distributed over 708,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables to soup kitchens and food pantries in the county. In 2019, the collaborative distributed over 135,000 lbs of produce from 36 donors and distributed to 52 food pantries, shelters, and community meal programs in the Hudson Valley. In 2019 the collaborative also processed 6236 lbs of produce for winter distribution to local food pantries, shelters, and community meal programs. In 2018, thanks to generous community support, we were able to purchase a van for the Collaborative which has greatly increased our capacity.

A central component of the program is the recruiting, training and coordinating of volunteers. During the 2019 growing season, 263 volunteers contributed a total of 1460 hours gleaning, distributing, and processing fresh produce. The remarkable generosity of our local farmers and the strong support we have received from volunteers leads us to believe that collectively we can be successful in addressing food insecurity in our community.

In 2015, the collaborative started an initiative to create five food hubs, which would each include expanded freezer and cooler capacity to improve food storage and significantly decrease waste. The hubs are being located in key locations throughout the county, each supporting four to five food pantries from their surrounding communities. These hubs will not only decrease waste and improve food quality, but will significantly lower transportation costs and thereby operating costs for the local pantries. As of 2019, hubs are now operational in Kingston, Ellenville Rosendale, New Paltz and Woodstock.

We have developed a Community Resource Guide to provide information about services to help address issues that may be contributing to the root causes of hunger.  In collaboration with best-selling cookbook author Julia Turshen, we have also developed simple recipe suggestions in English and Spanish for the fresh and frozen produce most commonly shared through the program.

In addition to the collaborative’s efforts described above, the agencies supporting the collaborative also provided assistance and volunteers to help Family achieve other significant food security goals, including:

  • The agency’s Family of Ellenville program received 73,370 pounds of food from the Walmart facility in Kerhonkson as part of the Feeding America program and distributed it to food pantries, soup kitchens, churches and shelters throughout the southern part of the county. (For more information, see the Family of Ellenville section of this Overview.)
  • The agency, through its Kingston Cares program, sponsored the NYS Education Department’s Summer Food Service Program, which provided breakfast and lunches to children served in local youth serving agencies’ programming. In summer 2019, the program served 8,500 meals to over 250 children. In addition, in an effort to address hunger issues among Kingston youth during the school year, the agency expanded its after school supper program at the Everette Hodge Community Center and began to offer meals at the Rondout Neighborhood Center and Boys and Girls Club. In 2019, the program prepared 23,125 dinners for these three youth programs.
  • Finally, since 1975, the agency’s walk-in centers have addressed the needs of their local communities by sponsoring substantial food pantries. Each pantry is available all of the time that the facility is open to the community. In addition to these pantries, Family’s domestic violence and family shelters maintain food pantries to serve their current and former residents. In 2019, the pantries collectively distributed 102,706 meals to 11,553 individuals.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS
In 2019, the agency installed a walk-in cooler at the Everette Hodge Community Center, finished the fifth and final food hub in Woodstock, worked with the food pantries in each hub’s region to more effectively utilize donations and reduce waste, expanded the amount of prepared foods from local restaurants that is distributed to not for profits rather than being discarded, and expanded outreach and coordination with pantries and farmers in the southern part of the County. In addition, the program expanded its collaboration with Community Action of Greene County to build a Farm to Food Pantry Program in that county. In 2019, 6,404 lbs of produce was donated and distributed in Greene County.

For more information or to volunteer to be a part of our gleaning and processing team, contact Beth at (845) 331-7080 x157 or email volunteers@fowinc.org

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