LOWVILLE — “It can get crowded when you are trying to put away eggs and someone needs to come through with a cart full of other stuff to put away,” said 12-year-old Lowville Food Pantry volunteer, Lilly Lacey.
Materials delivered last week to construct a new two-story, 60- by 60-square-foot steel pantry building on the 5502 Trinity Ave. property “sold” to the organization by Quibica/AMF Worldwide LLC for $1 in 2016, have the whole pantry community excited about the organization’s future.
According to Pantry CEO Daniel N. Taylor, a $21,000 grant from St. Peter’s Catholic Church and a $20,000 grant from the Northern New York Community Foundation combined with their own capital fund to pay the bill of about $60,000, for the pre-fabricated building kit.
Mr. Taylor said the project has been delayed two months due to a change in the insulation required for the building and extra time for NYSEG to install gas lines, but contractor Michael Hanno is ready to move the project forward.
Ideally, Mr. Taylor said, the pantry will be able to operate out of the new campus and building in the spring of 2020, but first they will raise the rest of the over $200,000 to complete the project.
“Just pulling it all together and get it done while making sure it gets done right is the focus now,” Mr. Taylor said.
The smaller of the two existing structures on the lot, which has been used for the Christmas Giving program for the past few years, will be connected to the new building with a breezeway, Mr. Taylor said.
The Christmas Giving program will move upstairs in that building and downstairs will house the administrative offices and “back of house” operations for the many pantry programs.
The new building will be exclusively for the pantry and will include a reception area and a private room for client in-take as well as walk-in refrigerators and freezers.
Both buildings will be handicap accessible and have more parking available than their current location.
“We’ve got people parking all the way down the street some days,” said Miss Lacey, “The new place will be a lot better.”
The new building site is just steps away from the 2,800-square-foot space the pantry currently rents from the Lowville Farmer’s Co-op at 7646 Forest Avenue.
“The Co-op has been wonderful to us but it’s time to make a move,” said Mr. Taylor, “We’ve grown out of the space.”
Central New York Food Bank driver, Evan Robb, is looking forward to the new campus slated to feature a large space with easy turn-around and access for deliveries.
“We come here once a week, sometimes twice, and the terrain, especially in the winter, can make getting stuff in here a challenge,” Mr. Robb said.
Along with the 1.3-acre main parcel, QubicaAMF also threw in an adjacent 1.1-acre parcel that pantry officials have started to clear for use as a community garden, Mr. Taylor said.
The 19,200-square-foot mill building on the lot is a shuttered factory that was a casket company in 1910 and later, the AMF plant manufacturing bowling pins until the 1970s.
The building recently passed air tests with no contaminants or mold found, Mr. Taylor said, and the land surrounding the building was removed from the state Registry of Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Sites in 2012.
Although the building has been out of use for years and needs considerable cosmetic work, Mr. Taylor said, the foundation is strong and they want to make the space available for community use in the future.
Lowville Food Pantry programs include Food Sense, Santa for Seniors, Christmas Sharing, a summer backpack program and outreach to homeless people in the county in addition to serving between 275 and 375 families every month.
The capital project fundraising season will begin with an invitation-only dinner on Aug. 23 to be followed by a number of community-outreach efforts and continuing searches for grant opportunities, Mr. Taylor said.
For more information, to make a financial or in-kind donation, or to volunteer, go to the pantry website at www.lowvillefoodpantry.org/.