Collaboration Focuses on Food Pantry Practices | News, Sports, Jobs

Jamestown — Cornell Cooperative Extension and Chautauqua Health Network work together on grants focused on healthy schools and communities.

As part of the collaboration, we visited and talked to local food pantries to find out what types of food were available, how the system worked, and how the pantries served customers with non-food needs. It includes confirming and discussing how to introduce yourself and build relationships with managers, volunteers and staff.

The two organizations hosted a food pantry networking conference last week at the Jamestown Community College Carnahan Center. The purpose of the conference is to highlight some best practices in food pantries, findings from pantry visits, share what has been achieved through collaboration with grant funding, and encourage welcoming and open networking opportunities. was.

The meeting was led by Jabnir Dhan, Community Health Action Coordinator. Cassandra Skal, CCE Agriculture Program Coordinator. and Mary Ryder, SNAPED Educator.

Participating food pantries included Casadaga, Fluesberg Community, Jamestown Salvation Army, Sinclairville, St. Susan Center, Seventh Adventist Church, Bread of Life and others. Other members include the Jamestown Public Market, the JCC Nursing Program and the Chautauqua County Health Network.

Ryder began the meeting with a few words about best practices for food pantries, specifically the barriers organizations have seen during their visits to food pantries that they would like to help improve.

“One of the things we saw was a billboard.” Rider said. “As much as it is a barrier, we think what many pantries are doing well is putting up signage. Even if we provide signage that is movable so that it can be expanded or condensed, we still need signage that can be moved from one place to another depending on the type of shelf.”

Another possible type of signage was one that provided nutritional messages about the types of food the pantry served. Other best practices discussed include providing a welcoming environment—what draws people to the food pantry and what can be done to make it more inviting or open? It included making sure the correct time and day of the week were listed everywhere it was supposed to be. Use it as your church website to share surplus donations between pantries.

Scurll discussed the assessments CCE and CHN had made at each pantry they visited. Assessments included vegetable and protein offerings, accountable referrals, intake referrals, and sign findings.

“In terms of accountable referrals, we found that 12 of the 19 companies we visited were either able to use or were willing to accept additional resources to share with their customers.” Skull said. “Nineteen of the 19 pantries we visited have been very welcoming of the pamphlets our team has assembled with resources from the county, and they will be able to help you in case you find yourself in a serious situation at home. It’s disguised as a recipe or something else, and that’s where you bring it in. When you put it in the car, people say, ‘Why are you bringing that paper when you’re in such trouble?’ You can hide it with something like

The second half of the meeting revisited responsible referrals and focused on whether the pantry was able to direct customers to the right place when they came and indicated that they needed additional resources or assistance. I was.

It was also determined that each pantry needed additional signage, which was provided through collaboration at the meeting.

Mr. Dunn then discussed the grants that CCE and CHN are working on together and the achievements that have been made so far. This includes coolers, racks/shelves and other signage.

“There are still three years left on the grant.” Dan said. “This grant has lasted for five years and is now in its second year. Again, if there is something you don’t have, we have the potential to provide it and we will try to make it happen.” .”

Later in the meeting, an open discussion was held among the food pantries who attended, sharing what was successful and what was a barrier. Problems with Feed More’s ordering system were a major barrier, as most participating pantries must order their products through Feed More.

The idea of ​​sharing email and phone numbers was discussed, and sheets were distributed around the room along with the newsletter to be sent to allow people to keep in touch with each other and share ideas and additional resources and updates. was given.

Other discussions included training such as how to mitigate the situation. Especially in the Jamestown Salvation Army, “hard to handle” Situations involving contacting the police. There were suggestions such as considering policies such as evacuation methods when necessary, and increasing the number of volunteers.

A question was then raised about how to recruit more volunteers, another barrier for food pantries. Other barriers include availability of storable goods and language/interpreters.

The final item discussed was community advocacy. As food access needs worsen, the question is raised about what food pantries can do for communities to solve hunger problems. Food stamps haven’t been raised since the 1980s, and food pantry customers have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. The idea was to hold Feedmore accountable and to write and sign a letter sent to the state. The meeting ended with a proposal for more networking events like Thursday’s.

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