By Lee Tugas
The Whitehall Food Pantry has a new director and she has been busy seeking new sources of food those in need.
Donna Gorton was appointed director by board members of the United Methodist Church, site of the pantry, on Sept. 7 and said that her main goal for the year was to connect the Whitehall Food Pantry with the Albany Food Bank.
“There is a lot of paperwork,” Gorton said, “and four inspections, and people don’t realize you have to pay for the food.”
Nevertheless, the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and Gorton said that by next September, she hoped that Whitehall would be officially connected to the Food Bank in Albany.
In the meantime, the resourceful new director procures food wherever she happens to be. For example, she was in Richfield Springs near Cobleskill, the week of Sept. 20. It may have been a vacation, but that did not stop Food Pantry Director Gorton from going to Price Chopper and getting that particular store in Richfield Springs to donate 200 canned goods, consisting of vegetables, tomato sauce and ravioli.
And although Whitehall is not officially connected as yet to the Albany Food Bank, it does have an unofficial connection. Once a month, food pantry workers pick up food at a delivery point behind the Annex Building of the Washington County Municipal Center. This food ultimately comes from Albany, she said. But only from April through October, she added.
Other food sources are Community Action in Glens Falls, which donates food once a month, a local Postal Service Drive, a local Stewart’s “match,” contributions from the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and most recently from the Knights of Columbus, Gorton said.
Another private source is Jeff and Dawn Howland, who donate, at their own expense, Freihofer goods, since “Jess is a driver for Freihofer,” Gorton said.
The pantry serves 184 families a year. Gorton added that the pantry, now open on Thursdays from noon to 2 p.m., typically serves 10 clients. She said that she felt the pantry was fully operational once again when it provided food for 17 clients.
And it is not just food that Gorton distributes.
“Actually, I had a bakery business in Connecticut, and I won awards and loved to cook,” she said.
“I got interested in the food pantry because of my love of food and people’s need for food. I’ll give people advice. I can give them Hamburger Helper or show them how to make their own Hamburger Helper without using the box,” she said.
Currently, Gorton is working at the pantry with Theresa Davis, but she reported that a volunteer had just stepped up. Barely retired from the Skenesborough Rescue Squad, Ruth Scribner has volunteered to work at the pantry, Gorton said.
“Just yesterday we had Ruth here working with us,” she said.
The pantry, of course, welcomes volunteers and donations. There is considerable paperwork between Gorton’s goal and full connection with the Albany Food Bank, whose food is not free but must be paid for.
Still, Gorton hoped that by this time next year the Whitehall Food Pantry would be officially connected to the Albany organization. In the meantime, if you would like to donate to the foor pantry, volunteer or would like more information, you can contact the pantry by calling 499-2039 or Gorton herself at 791-6693.