Gift Cards Add Milk To Food Pantry Offerings

By: Jill Kraft

CHENANGO COUNTY – With milk prices continuing to rise, going to the grocery store to grab a gallon is not as easy as it once was. The average price of milk has increased by roughly $2 per gallon in the past six months.

Since transporting grocery items into Chenango County depends on tractor trailer deliveries, the cost of diesel fuel has led to significant increases in the price of food products.

The Food Bank of Central New York (FBCNY), which provides a majority of the food for local pantries, recently announced its has partnered with Stewart’s Shops throughout the region to provide food pantries with over 5,000 gift cards for the purchase of a milk. From the 5,000 cards generated, 450 were sent to two Chenango County pantries.

Dan Valla, assistant executive director of Catholic Charities, operator of Roots and Wings food pantry in Norwich, said their pantry has received 300 cards within the past month.

Since there is not a Stewart’s Shop in Norwich, Valla said pantry workers travel to nearby shops to purchase milk for their consumers. “We have given out 20 to 30 a week,” he said. “We are trying to spread it through the summer and not use them all at once.”

Valla said the milk is an item the pantry does not regularly stock and having the opportunity to provide it to people in need has worked out well. He said the pantry has been hit hard this year because more and more people can not afford to pay for groceries like in years past. “We have seen a 10 percent increase in pantry usage this year,” he recently stated.

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