The Schroon Lake Food Pantry served nearly 5,000 people during 2013 — in a space not much larger than a closet.
That’s all changed, though. The pantry has moved to a new location at the intersection of Broad and Fairfield streets, a building that housed the town hall until 1978 and the town fire company until 1989.
The food shelf now shares the 4,000 square-foot building with Schroon’s water and parks departments.
“We’re so happy,” said Lenchen Marnell, the pantry’s volunteer manager. “It’s been 13 years in the cold and dark. This is going to be very different; much better.”
The pantry had been located in the basement of the Schroon Lake health center, which has no heat and no windows.
The new food pantry not only has heat and windows, it is handicap accessible, offers plenty of parking and has restrooms.
“It’s a big step up,” Schroon Supervisor Mike Marnell said. “This is a good project for the town. Not only does it help the food pantry, but our water and parks departments benefit, too.”
The water and parks departments have about twice the space in their new homes as well as storage areas in the basement.
After the Schroon Lake Fire Department moved to a new home in 1989, the building was sold and used as a auto body shop for about eight years, Mike Marnell said. It then sat empty until the town purchased it for $155,000 about five years ago with the idea of moving the community library to the building.
That plan failed to materialize when state library mandates forced the cost of renovation to about $1 million, Supervisor Marnell said, more than the town could afford.
The cost to renovate the building for the food pantry, water and park use was $15,000, the supervisor said, with town employees doing most of the work.
“Structurally, the building is in great shape,” he said.
The building that was home to the water and parks departments, located on Fairfield Street in a residential area, will likely be sold and returned to the tax roll, the supervisor said.
The Schroon Lake Food Pantry is open Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to noon. For information people can call the town hall at 532-7737.
A report prepared by Lenchen Marnell shows 1,962 families, 3,261 adults, 1,350 children and 974 senior citizens received support from the pantry last year.
“We certainly have about 25 percent more clients now compared to a couple of years ago, and the demand is increasing with every month, especially during the winter months,” she said.
November, December, January and February are peak months for the Schroon Lake Food Pantry. November was the busiest month with 570 adults, 157 citizen and 92 senior citizens getting assistance.
“Thanks to the generosity of a lot of caring people in Schroon Lake and grant money from several places, the Schroon Lake Food Pantry is open and always had enough food to provide for everybody in need,” she said. “Thank you everybody, who helped in some way either by donating food, money or giving of their time.”
In 2013 the Schroon Lake Food Pantry purchased nearly 42,000 pounds of food from the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York in Latham. Food is delivered to the Schroon pantry twice a month.
“We purchase two cases of milk from Tops Market every time we are open, sometimes meat, soups and side dishes,” Lenchen Marnell said. “The two deliveries per month are often no longer sufficient to feed everybody.”