Food pantries seeing increased need ahead of the holidays


ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Food costs are up, following a rising pattern over the last year. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food costs are expected to increase 5.8 percent in 2023, compared to last year. Food assistance groups like the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York and the Food Pantries for the Capital District are seeing the results of those higher prices first hand.

“It’s over a 30 percent increase in some neighborhoods with increased need and support,” Nick Pisani, Chief Operating Officer for the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, said.

“2023 has been the highest service levels we’ve ever seen,” Natasha Pernicka, Executive Director of the Food Pantries for the Capital District, said. “We’re already at 15 percent higher than we were last year, we’ve also distributed more food than we did last year.”

Pernicka said the food pantries distributed over 2,000 turkeys ahead of Thanksgiving, but the need is so great they’re diverting families to community partners to help them find a holiday meal.

“Food prices are not only impacting people, but they’re also impacting food pantries themselves,” Pernicka said. “I don’t think people realize that most of the food the food pantries distribute they actually pay for and with continued supply chain issues in the charitable food system, pantries are going through more money than ever before.”  

As they navigate the increased need, and the holiday season gets into full swing, they’re asking for continued community donations to help feed those in need.

“Money and donated food, personal hygiene products, they all really help so at this point we’re really rallying the businesses in the community, employees at the businesses, community groups to come together,” Pernicka said.

“The holidays are a great time and I think it’s a great time for those that have the ability to step up and support,” Pisani said. “We love to see each other come together and we like to be a part of that.”

If you’re able to donate or volunteer, you can visit the Food Pantries for the Capital District or the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York.

Those in need of a Thanksgiving dinner can seek other community resources:

  • Equinox Community Dinner. Wed., Nov. 22, 2:00-6:00 p.m. 263 State St, Albany, NY.
  • Schenectady City Mission. Thurs., Nov. 23, 1:00-2:00 p.m. 512 Smith St., Schenectady, NY.
  • Albany Capital City Rescue Mission. Thurs, Nov. 23, 12:00-2:00 p.m. 259 S. Pearl St., Albany, NY.
  • Victorious Life Church. Wed., Nov. 22, 4:00-6:00 p.m. 1838 5th Ave, Troy, NY.
  • Tabernacle of New Hope. Thurs., Nov. 24, 11:30 a.m.-3:00p.m. 3 Morris Ave, Schenectady, NY.

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