Gurney's Inn
November 08, 2006

Food Pantry Lobbies for Freezer

Tucked away in a little corner of the community room at Windmill Village II in East Hampton is a small space that fills a big need for some local families. Each week about 80 families receive supplies they need from the East Hampton Food Pantry. With just a couple of volunteers, the pantry operates every Tuesday between three and four hours.

According to Herc Volpe, chairperson of East Hampton Food Pantry, Inc. the pantry started in East Hampton Village in 1989. It made its home in a variety of places — the senior center and the First Presbyterian Church and St. Luke's Church. Don and Ellen Schrage ran the pantry under church sponsorship from 1996 until 2004 when Ellen died.

That year the pantry was established at Windmill II and was incorporated as a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization. The pantry operates through donations, with all of its contributions used to assist clients. The cost of establishing the corporation depleted the pantry's meager reserves. Last Friday, Volpe appeared before the East Hampton Town Board requesting a $7000 grant. The money would be used to replace a freezer that has broken down and a refrigerator that's on its last legs.

Also, volunteers use their own computers for food pantry correspondence and accounting. "We would love to have a computer and printer so our records may be kept in one place," Volpe told the town board.

Volpe's request was among the more modest pleas during a public hearing on Community Development Grant money. Each year the town receives a chunk of money — around $110,000 this year — from the federal government. The money is then distributed through grants to social agencies that assist low and moderate-income people.

Among representatives lobbying for a piece of the grant pie, the Windmill Village Corporation requested the largest sum. In total, representatives asked for an estimated $150,000 for such projects as new boilers and sprinkler system upgrades to its facilities on Accabonac Road. Supervisor Bill McGintee pointed out the difference between what the advocates requested and how much money is available. He advised them to make a long-term priority list.

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