Catholic agency continues food pantry services during pandemic
Turning Point, a division of Catholic Charities of Steuben, is still operating and providing food pantry services amid the COVID-19 health pandemic.
“At this time we are not officially open to the public but are instead providing food pantry services in a non-contact delivery style,” said Steve Olix, Turning Point’s rural coordinator.
Turning Point typically provides such basic needs as food, clothing and transportation assistance to families experiencing economic hardship, Olix explained, with services being provided at four locations — Turning Point Bath, Turning Point Painted Post, Turning Point Hornell and Steuben County Rural Ministry. According to a May 11 press release from Turning Point, the rural ministry is set to close June 1, and the services it provided will be offered through Consuming Fire Ministry, 6017 Magee Road, Canisteo.
During the pandemic, Turning Point staff members are operating out of the Hornell and Bath locations only, with all other services at these locations temporarily suspended, Olix said. However, he added that there also are staff members from each of the four locations working remotely to ensure that individuals still have access to utility, rent, SNAP and transportation assistance if the need should arise.
Deliveries of pantry items can be scheduled by calling the Hornell site at 607-324-3457 or the Bath site at 607-776-4575 during office hours (Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4:30 p.m.). Turning Point is currently providing an average of 200 deliveries of pantry items per week, said Olix, who added that staff members schedule drop off times for the individuals being served. According to the Turning Point website, staff members will place food items in front of each home to ensure 100 percent non-contact delivery.
To remain compliant with the state health department’s social-distancing recommendations, Olix said individuals are encouraged to wait until after Turning Point staff members have vacated the area before retrieving their deliveries. This non-contact delivery service is the major special precaution being taken, Olix noted, in addition to the social-distancing practices and cleaning the Hornell and Bath offices every two hours.
He added that the ministry has been fortunate to receive assistance from numerous community partners.
“Our community partners aren’t helping us to package or deliver food, but they are assisting us in so many other amazing ways,” Olix said.
For example, he noted that such stores as Walmart, Wegmans and Aldi continue to donate grocery items that are nearing the end of their shelf lives. Turning Point also has been working with Food Bank of the Southern Tier to ensure that pantry items remain stocked and the community served, Olix added.
“With the number of deliveries to homes we are completing a week, we wouldn’t be able to maintain enough inventory without these donations,” he said, adding that other community partners include local parishioners and congregations of area churches that provide both food and monetary donations.
“It has been an amazing process to watch a rural community come together and help in any way they can,” Olix said. “We have modified our approach to fit these new times but remain focused on the mission.”