The mission of the Cooperstown Food Pantry is to deal with issues of poverty and hunger in northern Otsego County by acquiring, storing and providing food and personal care supplies to individuals and families, thereby reducing hunger and improving nutrition.
Currently in its 42nd year, the Cooperstown Food Pantry provides an important safety net for area families forced to choose between paying for utilities, medicine, gasoline or food. We are a tax-exempt organization through our sponsoring agency, the First Presbyterian Church of Cooperstown, and all contributions made to Cooperstown Food Pantry are fully tax-deductible as allowed by law.
In 1977, Ellen St. John of Cooperstown started the Cooperstown Food Pantry, then known as the Cooperstown Food Bank, in a closet at the village library. In 1992, the First Presbyterian Church provided space which included the entire basement of the Church House. In 2014 the pantry moved to a newly renovated first floor location in the same building. The name Food Pantry is a newer designation for membership in Feeding America (formerly America’s Second Harvest), a network of over 250 huge, regional food banks serving all 50 states and Puerto Rico. Cooperstown is a member agency of The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY located in Latham, near Albany.
Founding Director, Ellen St. John
Founding director, Ellen St. John retired in May of 2013 after 36 years. Her strong leadership, gentle wisdom, and compassion for others has helped to make the food pantry such an important part of the Cooperstown community. Her vision, influence and enthusiastic helping hands continue to inspire the organization.
After 40 years of volunteer executive staff, Stacey Smith served as our first paid Executive Director from November 2017 to July 2019. Prior to the transition to a paid Director, Audrey Murray was volunteer Director for 11 years. Audrey began volunteering with the Cooperstown Food Pantry in 2006, becoming Founding Director Ellen St John’s Co-Director in January 2007 and sole Director in 2013 after Ellen’s retirement. Audrey is currently serving as volunteer Interim Executive Director until new paid executive staff is hired.
Who is served?
The Food Pantry serves people living in the northern two-thirds of Otsego County. For many, the Food Pantry is the first place families in crisis turn to for help. People are surprised to learn that nearly 50% of clients visit just once or twice a year. Visits are prompted by unemployment, underemployment, illness, injury, divorce, domestic violence, unexpected bills and car repairs. Often those seeking help are outside the Social Service system. Referrals are not required, payment in any form is never accepted, and no one is ever turned away. Many clients visit when taxes are due or when heating costs peak. Summer is also busy since children who take advantage of free or low cost breakfast and lunch are eating at home.
Food Pantry Clients receive 5 days worth of food, 3 meals a day, for each person in the household.
Where does the food come from?
- 80% is purchased through the Regional Food Bank which receives donations from manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and farmers
- Local farmers, gardeners, Cooperstown Farmers Market
- Price Chopper’s Fresh Recovery Program
- And you.