BATAVIA — During these times, if money’s tight, people may be asking themselves, “Where can we find food if we need it?”
The most recent “Genesee Connects” video, posted Friday on YouTube, included representatives of The Salvation Army, Office for the Aging and Genesee County United Way who were there partly to answer that question.
SALVATION ARMY Coordinator of Emergency Disaster Services Todd Rapp said some people have a stigma about going to the agency for food.
“I really want to impress upon people that there is absolutely no reason to be embarrassed about coming to any agency for food right now. A lot of people — most of us — live paycheck to paycheck. When those paychecks go away, there’s decisions you have to make,” he said. “It’s either pay the rent or buy groceries. Right now, our community has just been amazing with the donations that we’ve had.”
The Salvation Army’s gym is set up as an emergency operations base, he said.
“The food comes in, the food goes out. We are pretty strict about quarantining the incoming food, according to the health department. They asked us if we would set things aside for three days. We also clean the cans and whatever else,” he said. “You’re not going to run the risk of getting something somebody just sneezed on at the store.
“Right now, we have waived all intake process. All you need to do is come to our back door on the days that we’re doing distributions and just give us your stats. How many are in the family? We put some grocery bags together for you. We’re doing that Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9:30 (a.m.) to 12:30 (p.m.). Our big, mobile pantries that we’re doing over at Northgate Church, those are every other Wednesday. Our next one will be May 6. That starts at 9 o’clock and that goes until we run out of food.”
Rapp said Foodlink provides The Salvation Army with 300 provision boxes that are already packed with shelf-stable items. Star Growers Inc. in Elba has also come through.
“We are able to supplement those. Star Growers is just giving us tremendous amounts of produce,” he said. “We’ve got apples and cabbage and potatoes and onions and all kinds of things we’re able to supplement that with. Sometimes we end up with milk and eggs ... Northgate does a food collection every Monday, so, they have all of that in stock.”
Rapp said the most popular way to contact the organization is through Facebook at “The Salvation Army Batavia NY.”
“You can actually ask to have an appointment scheduled on that page,” Rapp said. “There’s the office phone number (343-6284), Right now our office phones are not manned, but you can leave a voice mail and we generally get back to you very quickly. Those come to my phone as well as to the officers’ phones. “
OFFICE FOR THE AGING Director Diana Fox said the only things that have really changed in the OFA are the group programs.
“We can’t provide the group recreation. We can’t provide congregate meal programs right now,” she said. “We are still available to feed people and make sure people are available to get home-delivered services if they need that. We’ve been able to really expand that. Luckily, due to COVID-19, our funding sources through the state have been very helpful to us in terms of allowing us to shift some of the criteria around so that we can expand some of those home-delivered meal programs. We’re doing that every day, Monday through Friday.
“We’re still doing Meals on Wheels, we’re doing nutrition counseling, all of those types of things,” she said.
Fox said the way to access those options is by calling 343-1611, emailing OFA.Dept@co.genesee.ny.us or through the website at https://www.co.genesee.ny.us/departments/office_for_the_aging/index.php as well.
“We also have a new Facebook page (Genesee County Office for the Aging) That’s a great opportunity to tell friends, family, loved ones, neighbors about how to get in touch with us.”
“Some of us are out and about in the community, still doing what we do to serve the community,” Fox said.
Fox said during regular business hours, somebody will answer the phone at 343-1611.
“That phone line is always open and we are available for regular types of questions and information, whether you’re a person who is 60 or older or you’re a caregiver of a person 60 or older, a disabled adult — we still are there for you in terms of being able to provide services, information ... all the things we have done in the past, we’re just doing in a different way,” she said.
The OFA director said the department has been getting donations from farmers and other community groups.
“We’ve been putting that right out to the folks we serve every day. We’ve got cabbage and potatoes and fruits and vegetables,” she said. “We’ve been working very closely with ... Salvation Army, United Way, Community Action, Foodlink. A lot of community has really come together to make sure that we are taking care of those very important needs. One of them is ‘How do I get food? I need food.’”
UNITED WAY Executive Director Tammy Hathaway called the organization a “clearing house” for agencies in the county. “I’ve been staying in contact with them (agencies) ... just to find out what they’re immediate needs are,” she said. “I’ve been picking up donations off of porches and getting them to where they need to be. We’ve been volunteering with The Salvation Army at the food distribution. Yesterday (Thursday) I dropped off donations for Office for the Aging that have been collected by GLOW Women Rise and for Project Stork (Inc.).”
Hathaway said it’s a matter of “Who needs what?”
“I have a huge base of people who are just waiting for me to tell them what’s needed in the community,” she said. “The United Way of Greater Rochester created a site for us called ‘Volunteer United.’ This is where agencies can go in and register. They can register any needs that they have and volunteers can also go in. They can comb through any needs they have and say, ‘Oh, you need masks? I’m making masks,’ and make that connection as well.”
Hathaway said the United Facebook page is the site she would tell someone to use if they want to reach out. The United Way may also be reached at 343-8141.
“If you call and I’m not in here, you will receive my cell. I can take text messaging. My email goes straight to my phone as well,” Hathaway said.