The newly appointed director of the Sag Harbor Food Pantry on the growing community the pantry serves, going green and the high price of cereal.
About how many visitors do you have at the food pantry?
We had about 75 today. That’s about average. We have less during the summer, but then there are more people who have work.
Are there more people coming now than when you started?
Oh yes, much more. We have started limiting patrons to just those from Sag Harbor. We had some coming from Bridgehampton and Hampton Bays, because they knew we were offering fresh food. That was very hard, because it’s very hard to refuse someone food.
When did you start at the food pantry?
It was about 1999.
What got you interested in volunteering?
I had just retired, and thought I might want to help out. I called the church one day and they said they needed volunteers. The church is great. They house so many different organizations. Since we don’t have a community center here it serves a great purpose.
How have things changed since you started?
When I started it was just one little closet, I could just about open my arms and reach from side to side. We were not open as much as we are now, it was an hour a night, a couple nights a week. Now we’ve graduated to Tuesday 10:30 in the morning to 1:30 in the afternoon. And we have much more space and are now offering fresh foods. We have
milk, eggs, cheese and butter, and one meat a week.
With the extra space, people we need to help can come in out of the cold if they have to wait. Sometimes we have some soup we can offer. And hot cocoa.
How many volunteers?
About 40 on a rotating basis.
Well, we acquired a new freezer and refrigerator. That allows us to keep more.
As the new director of the food pantry, are you planning on making any changes?
Not really; we’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing, offering fresh food. What we give out can take care of a family for two days. And on holidays we try to do something different. Coffee. Turkeys and hams. Bacon so they can have a nice breakfast on Christmas day.
And we’re trying to become more environmentally friendly. We want to phase out plastic and Styrofoam containers.
What does the food pantry need?
Anyone who has canvas shopping bags to donate, we can use them. We let people take them instead of plastic bags and they reuse them every week. We have a blue box outside for donations of non-perishable foods. We take everything, coffee, tea. Jelly. And they can send contributions to the food pantry at PO Box 1241, Sag Harbor.
Are there things people ask for?
Coffee and tea are quite special. Cookies and tuna fish. Cereal is hard to come by because it’s very expensive. Juices.
Do you do clothes?
We do. And we put those out on a table. We’ll do toys also. If it comes in, we’ll put it out. Nine times out of ten someone will pick it up.