Emily Stothart sheds light on the reality of food insecurity
By Mary Gardner-Ruch
Emily Stothart shared information about the services provided by the Salvation Army and community needs at a very informative “Tuesdays With Grace” held at the Grace United Church on Giving Tuesday. Leaders from several local churches attended along with community members.
The Salvation Army in Wellsville has been providing social services and preaching the Gospel since 1906. Their biggest outreach is the food pantry that serves a critical need. In 2022, Allegany County was #6 in New York State for food insecurity. A quarter of the children in our county are not insured three meals a day. Steuben County placed #22. Cattaraugus County was also in the top 10 in the State.
Food insecurity is the highest that it has ever been. Thirty percent of those being served by the food pantry are Senior Citizens living on a fixed income. An increase in working poor are coming through the door for first-time help. All it takes is a need for a car repair or unexpected medical bill and they cannot make ends meet. Some are working two or three jobs just to pay the rent. Rent in our area is $800 to $900 a month and the average monthly rent is $1,315. It often comes down to a decision of paying rent or eating. Emily stated, “The world has changed. It is almost impossible for people to get ahead”.
The Salvation Army partners with Food Link out of Rochester which provides them with low-cost or free food. They pay a fee to partner with this agency. Carol Dodge, who runs the pantry, is very good at stretching their funds to find food to feed families. In the past, they gave out about 400 food boxes a month and in the past 3 years, it increased to about 600. They provide a 5-day pantry package that contains 3 meals for 5 days. The Pantry provided 238 boxes at Thanksgiving and is planning for even more for Christmas.
Monetary donations and shelf-safe food donations are always welcome. Angel Tree tags can be picked up where you are given the name of a child who is 12 and under to provide Christmas gifts for. Their sizes and preferences are included. Save-A-Lot has food bags that can be purchased and will be given to someone in need.
The Salvation Army provides rental assistance through a United Way Grant. This assistance provides 1 month’s rent for people being evicted. They provide gas cards for medical appointments out of the area. They process the application for Neighbor for Neighbor through National Fuel for people who cannot pay this utility.
Volunteers are needed as 2 employees cannot possibly keep up with all the demands. If you are willing to help unload a truck filled with food, cleaning, or other needed tasks, contact Emily at Emily.firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 585-593-2640. You can also stop by their office on Pearl Street which is open from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday.
This time of year, bell ringers are needed for the Kettle Drive. We also think of those who are homeless and out in frigid temperatures. Code Blue kicks in when the temperature drops below 30 degrees. The county pays for an overnight in a local hotel. If are in need of this assistance, you can call 585-268-9189 or the hotline at 585-268-7650.
Emily stressed the need for advocacy for people who are marginalized. You can help by calling or writing your representatives about the need for fair housing, how food insecurity affects us, and the need for increased partnerships for people who need mental health and recovery services.
Emily also mentioned Accord and Ardent Solutions as other agencies addressing these issues. Churches and many groups are helping out through the Wellsville Community Kitchen meals served at the Wellsville Library. It takes many hands all taking a part and working together to continue to address these needs.