OLA in Pelham Bay Opens Food Pantry

Our Lady of Assumption Church is gearing up to open a new food pantry for locals.

Daniel Thaler, music director at OLA, approached Fr. John Knapp with the idea about a year ago.

Today, the pantry is just about ready to open its doors on Saturday, April 9.

Thaler says there is a great need for food pantries in the area, and that often times pantries are forced to turn away needy patrons because of the large volume of people they need to serve with only limited resources.

“It’s sobering to hear the statistics,” said Thaler, “Most of these people have two or three jobs, they are working families that need assistance.”

Thaler says the pantry will operate like a mini grocery store so that clients can pick out what they would like as they would in any marketplace.

He described this model as a dignified and respectful way for people to access food while at the same time eliminating waste so clients can choose what they really need and use on a regular basis.

The pantry will give three days of food for each person in the household each time a family visits.

“It’s about developing relationships and treating people with dignity, not just – here’s a bag of food,” said Thaler.

The philanthropist hopes the pantry will serve as a way to get to know needy families in the neighborhood so the church can help them access other services in the area with the eventual goal being self-sufficiency.

The church will require ID and proof of residency from each person as well as a letter from the school or birth certificate for each child.

This way the organization can keep track of how much food goes in and out of the pantry.

OLA has been in contact with Councilman James Vacca’s office, and plans on introducing the program to Community Board 10 at the next meeting.

Thaler says the best way people can help the pantry is to make monetary donations because the parish purchases the food wholesale.

Many stores will sell food to the charity at cost, due to their status as a food pantry.

“Giving money gives us more bang for the buck, but we also want to get people involved,” said Thaler, “We are thinking of different fundraisers, music evenings, and can drives for children to host.”

OLA says other parishes are anxious to come on board and help support the pantry.

To donate go online to Olahelpinghands.org.

If you are in need of assistance visit Our Lady of the Assumption Church on the corner of Mahan and Roberts avenues between 2 and 4 p.m. to register with the pantry. The entrance is on Mahan Avenue.

Reach Reporter Madeline Anthony at (718) 260-4591. E-mail her at manthony@cnglocal.com.

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