LITTLE VALLEY — Although she operates a small operation at the Valley View Baptist Church Food Pantry in Little Valley, manager Mary Bailey has seen the need for help for rural families increase over the years.
And as the longtime manager of the 16-year-old pantry, Bailey tries to ensure there are enough supplies for all who stop in for help. For that reason, the 83-year-old volunteer is reaching out for donations of money and food to keep the shelves, refrigerators and freezers stocked for all families that qualify.
“We’re right in the church, they’ve given us a room to store our stuff,” Bailey said of the church at 5416 Route 353. “We use the whole church on our food pantry day.”
Bailey said the nonprofit organization depends heavily on grants every year to feed 50 to 60 families that include approximately 160 people each month. She said some families have six or seven children.
“We are about to finish a grant from the Dr. Lyle F. Renodin Foundation in Allegany.” Bailey added. “It has helped us tremendously with getting food for our clients.”
Bailey, who had worked at the Cattaraugus clerk’s office years ago, said she does whatever it takes to ensure there are food supplies for the recipients, many of whom are elderly.
“One lady who passed away about a month ago, I had delivered her food to her every month,” Bailey said. “She was on a walker, couldn’t drive and was elderly.
“You do it for a good reason,” she added.
In commenting on the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, which is a little more than a week away, Bailey said she and the other volunteers were grateful for the recent donation of turkeys from the staff at the West Valley Demonstration Project.
“West Valley sent us 40 turkeys and another woman sent us 10, she donates 10 every year,” Bailey remarked. “But we’ve been a little short this year because we’ve had 60 people in.“
She said the staff have been able to work around this situation as some of the recipients preferred roasting chickens instead of turkey.
“A lot wanted chicken, so we were lucky,” she commented.
Bailey said the staff has appreciated West Valley’s donation of turkeys, which has been a yearly occurrence, as well as the extra food the organization provides to the pantry.
“(Friday) they had all other kinds of food on their truck,” she said of West Valley. “They sent people to even help unload the trucks.”
As for the pantry, Bailey said it is open different hours of the week for its registered families, or for those interested in registering for help from the pantry.
In addition, the facility began receiving help from a Feeding America truck this year. The truck stops once a month with fruits, vegetables and dairy products that are available to all who need help.
“Anyone can receive this food no matter what their income is,” Bailey said of Feeding America. “It comes in on the fourth Thursday of the month” and is separate from the food pantry.
For more information on the food pantry and its hours, or to help, contact Bailey at (716) 257-3135.
(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)