The food pantry in Franklin has moved from the hamlet of Treadwell to the village of Franklin.
In the 1980s, the food pantry was conceived as an outreach project by the Crisis Relief Committee of the United Methodist Church in Treadwell. The Franklin Township Food Bank existed in the basement of the church for more than 35 years. Over the years, leadership was provided by Nancy Barnes, Donna Briggs, Ira Hall, Margaret Hazlett, Beulah Hussey, and Stella Sprague, and was staffed by numerous volunteers.
In 2020, the volunteers in Treadwell were ready to hand the reins to a new group. It was thought that a more central location might increase participation.
The Walter Rich Charitable Foundation donated the use of space in the Franklin Farmhouse Community Center at 574 Main Street in the village. It is next door to the Town of Franklin offices and in front of the Franklin Railroad & Community Museum.
In June 2020 a dozen volunteers moved the shelving and goods to the center, where the rooms had been freshly cleaned and painted. A donated refrigerator houses perishables. Out front, signage was posted, and a Facebook page and website were created. The pantry opened to the public on June 19th.
The only condition is that individuals or families must live in the Franklin township (includes Treadwell) or the former Treadwell school district (includes Meridale). First-time customers fill out a brief questionnaire, with information to include their local address and family size. Information is kept confidential.
Then participants use a form to select from meats, fish, bread, eggs, milk, butter, canned fruits and vegetables (fresh when available), juice, pasta and sauces, cereal, rice, beans, breakfast foods, soups, and stews. Additional items such as baking supplies and non-food items such as toiletries and cleaning supplies are also available. Besides these basics, bonus items are offered as available.
Participants may shop once a month. Only one customer at a time will be served, and masks are required to enter.
The renamed Greater Franklin Food Pantry is now affiliated with Delaware Opportunities Inc. in Hamden, which provides access to food supplies from the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. The pantry will schedule visits with the Delaware Opportunities Nutrition Educator, to bring menu planning ideas and recipes based on available foods.
In addition to foods and supplies that were transferred from Treadwell, a wide variety of food was ordered through Delaware Opportunities. In a typical year, the U.S. Postal Service runs local food drives twice a year, but not during the pandemic. However, perishable foods must be purchased. Several local families have donated non-perishable food and money. The pantry gratefully accepts any donations of either groceries or funds. For a possible tax deduction, they can write a receipt for any donations of cash, non-cash, or in-kind.
Pantry is staffed by volunteers and managed by an eight-person steering committee. Meg Shivers is president, Amber Gray is secretary, Naomi Lima is treasurer, and Helen McLean and Amber Gray handle social media. All of the more than a dozen of volunteers have received training in procedures and customer service. New volunteers are welcome.
Greater Franklin Food Pantry is open Friday afternoons from 2 to 4 and by appointment. Parking is convenient in the rear of the property, and the pantry is handicapped accessible.
Since opening in mid June, visits to the pantry have gradually increased.
During uncertain times, now or in the future, the pantry is here to help alleviate food emergencies for local families. When in need, no one should go hungry.