SPHP Sponsors Drive-up Food Pantry to Help Capital Region Families

St. Peter’s Health Partners (SPHP) is proud to have sponsored a drive-up food pantry to help address the growing issue of food insecurity in the Capital Region.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany, the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, and St. Peter’s Health Partners helped organize the food drive, held July 13 outside the Lansingburgh Boys and Girls Club. Other partners included the Capital District Area Labor Federation, the Troy Teachers Association, Oakwood Community Center, and the Ale House.

Cars began lining up at 10 a.m. to receive bags full of free chicken, sausage, yogurt, milk, eggs, and produce handed out by volunteers, including more than two dozen colleagues from SPHP. The Regional Food Bank donated 12 pallets of food for the event, while other supplies were provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Nourish New York, a state-funded program.

“Summer is always a difficult time for families because many children get the bulk of their food in school,” said Sister Betsy Van Deusen of Catholic Charities. “This year, it’s even more challenging because kids have been out of school for so long. So many people are also out of work and there are a lot of unknowns and concerns of, ‘am I going to have food next month?’”

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a perfect storm of unemployment, uncertainty, and anxiety. Because of this, Sister Van Deusen explains, the need for these food distribution events has skyrocketed.

“We started doing food drives like this in 2018. That year, we served 5,366 people. This year, as of the end of June, we have already served 33,000 people,” she said.

In addition to providing volunteers, SPHP provided hundreds of bags to aid with the food distribution.

“Care of the vulnerable and poor is one of our core values. It’s part of our Mission,” said Melissa Zapotocki, director of community benefit for SPHP. “We’re here to serve the communities in need. With so many people out of work and kids out of school, we want to do whatever we can to help get healthy, fresh foods into the hands of those who need it the most.”

The drive-up food pantry is estimated to have served more than 500 families.

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