The city church opens a small pantry | News, Sports, Jobs

Mirror Photo by Holly Claycomb Betsy Gallace and Jane Falco stock the small pantry.

A new small free food pantry has popped up in the area, an outreach from Providence Presbyterian Church, 2401 Broad Ave., Altoona.

Modeled on small free libraries, which Providence Presbyterian also owns, small pantries are often house-shaped cabinets found outside churches. The stable food inside is free for anyone in need and, for those who don’t need food but want to be part of the movement, donations can be added at any time simply by opening the door and tapping. placing objects inside.

That’s what’s been happening in the Providence Presbyterian pantry, organizers said, since it was stocked by church youth and opened on April 24.

Jane Falco, a church and mission committee member, said she checks the pantry supplies daily and is thrilled with the support from the community.

“There’s always new food in there,” she says. “I never see him, he just appears.”

The small pantry is in memory of Jane’s husband, Andrew Falco, who passed away last year.

Andrew enjoyed working with the church soup during Saturday evangelism, she said, so instead of flowers the family asked people to help with the evangelism in her memory.

With an abundance of donations, she thought using some of the funds to expand the church’s food reach would be a good way to remember Andrew.

The small pantry will be dedicated on Sunday, May 15 and will have a commemorative plaque placed on the side, she said.

Credit for building the pantry goes to Betsy Gallace and her husband, Falco said. “They did all the physical labor.”

But, the Gallacians avoided any recognition, instead noting that the mission committee spearheaded the pantry, they just did a little.

“We don’t do things for recognition” Betsy Gallace said it was more a way of honoring and glorifying God and reaching out to help the community. Also, she says, the pantry is a solid wood cabinet found at a second-hand furniture store. It already had a glass door and the Gallaces only had to refinish it, make some repairs and add a roof. The glass has been replaced with Plexiglas to make it less likely to break. The small pantry sits on a solid foundation made up of two 4x4s, Gallace said.

“A lot of people put a lot of effort into it” create the pantry, Gallace said.

The pantry is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for anyone in need, Falco said.

“If you need something, you can come down and get it”, Gallace added.

Thanks to church and community donations, the pantry includes substantial foods such as pasta and gravy, canned vegetables and fruits, cereals, oatmeal and other staples. food as well as personal hygiene items such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shower gel, toilet rolls and Suite. These items are in a separate compartment at the back of the small pantry, to keep the soap away from the food, Gallace said.

Falco is happy that people are using the pantry and also happy to see others donating food to help their neighbors in need.

“One day I passed, I found it was quite low and I went to the store” Falco said. “When I got back it was packed.”

The mini-pantry movement is a national and participatory solution to meet an immediate and local need. Whether it’s a need for food or a need to donate, mini pantries help feed neighbors and feed neighborhoods, according to Those with mini pantries can list them on the website, which is full of photos and short stories about small pantries found across the United States.

There are at least two other small food pantries in the area, one at Roaring Spring and another at Trinity Lutheran Church, 408 N. Sixth St.

The porch pantry at Trinity United Methodist Church, 434 E. Main St., Roaring Spring, is not located in a small building, but shelves filled with food are on the covered porch at the entrance main of the church.

The pantry was started during the pandemic to support the community, according to the church’s website.

“The food on the shelves was provided by people in our church, the community and through monetary donations. This awareness has been a blessing to so many,” the post reads. “Please feel free to drop off donations or take what you need.”

Perhaps what is the first small pantry to be installed in the region is still going strong.

Trinity Lutheran’s pantry has been operational since 2019, and Rev. Elizabeth Hess reports that it is being well used.

“It is not only used by the neighborhood, but people from the neighborhood also bring food to supply it,” she says.

The church has added a small library since the introduction of the Caring Cupboard and sometimes the library is filled with food instead of books, she said.

Hess said the church started putting out unrefrigerated milk or powdered milk after learning that a boy receiving food for his mother said he liked Mac n Cheese but sometimes they don’t. had no milk.

Another person comes at the end of the month to get a few items, Hess said, maybe to get by until the first of the month.

“Our members are very proud of the wardrobe and they are very loyal to it”, said Hess.

Hess said she thinks small pantries are successful because they’re there 24 hours a day and no questions are asked of the people using them.

“I think it’s essential that people don’t feel ashamed of needing help,” she says.

Falco couldn’t be happier that people are using Providence Presbyterian’s pantry.

“It was just amazing,” Falco said.

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Jerry B. Hatch