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Walmart Foundation grant helps put the "Wheels in Motion"

Getting Ulster County individuals and families the food they need

Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New York operates a food pantry in Ulster County. Until recently, the food pantry had to rely on staff and their own vehicles to drive the 90 and 140 mile roundtrips to various locations to pick up the much needed food for hungry families. In fact, the food pantry located in Kingston, provides approximately 70,000 meals each year to low-income, food-insecure families and individuals.

Thanks to a $40,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation, Catholic Charities in Kingston was able to purchase a 2016 Ford Transit 250 van for the dedicated use of picking up and delivering food. The van has helped Catholic Charities to expand the organization’s capacity to deliver food staples and fresh produce to neighbors in need.

“Catholic Charities’ Kingston pantry obtains most of its food from the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York’s Latham center or Cornwall satellite location. The roundtrip driving distances to these sites are over 100 miles and now, thanks to Walmart, we have the right vehicle for the job,” stated Shannon Kelly, Director of Hudson Valley Services. The pantry, which operates every Tuesday and Friday between 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. year round, provides groceries to more than 2,750 households from across Ulster County. Another advantage of the new van is the ability to access free produce, as well as make stops at local food establishments that donate food to the pantry’s operations.

The Walmart Foundation has as its mission “creating opportunities so people can live better.” The Foundation’s on-going partnership with Catholic Charities USA has rural capacity building as one focus.  Catholic Charities in Ulster County was fortunate to be one of the beneficiaries of this year’s round of grants.

The Church of St. Mary & St. Andrew, located in the small town of Ellenville, with a population of fewer than 5,000 people, is one beneficiary of our current operations.  Gail, who coordinates the food pantry at St. Mary & St. Andrew’s said, “Many thanks to Catholic Charities staff members and van for the delivery of large quantities of food on multiple occasions. Our food pantry relies on donations. These bulk deliveries keep the shelves full and allow for greater food distribution to all in need.”

One example of those the pantry serves is Tonya, a 49-year-old divorced mother, who has relied on her local pantry to help provide food for herself and her three children. She has battled through medical and personal hardship during her struggle to provide for her family, and thanks the pantry in her prayers every night. She says she doesn’t know how she could sustain herself and her family without the pantry.

The new van was key during the recent iHeartMedia of the Hudson Valley and Claudio Cares Foundation’s “Stuff the Bus” food drive when Catholic Charities Community Services received 8,617 pounds of food and with the newly purchased van, over 2,000 pounds of food was delivered to four Ulster County food pantries. The van logged over 100 miles to pick up and make deliveries of food during that weekend alone.

Those in need of assistance from a food pantry should contact Catholic Charities for additional information:

- In Ulster County, call 845.340.9170, ext. 100

- In Dutchess County, call 845.452.1400

- In Orange County, call 845.561.1665

- In Rockland County call 845-942-5791

- In Sullivan County, call 845.794.8080, ext. 250 

Catholic Charities Community Services seeks to provide high quality human services to New Yorkers of all religions who are in need.  The newcomer, the family in danger of becoming homeless, the hungry child, the emotionally challenged and developing youth are among those for whom we have a particular concern. Our work is grounded in the belief in dignity of each person as made in the image of God and the building of a just and compassionate society – especially for the most vulnerable among us.