After 40 years with an all volunteer staff, we have hired an Executive Director:
COOPERSTOWN FOOD PANTRY HIRES AN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
The Cooperstown Food Pantry, after 40 years as an all-volunteer organization, welcomes Stacey Smith as our first paid Executive Director effective November 8. Ms Smith comes to us with twenty years of experience dealing with the needs of children and families, primarily in New York State and Otsego County. She has a passion for advocating for those who are in need of support in dealing with the challenges of life. We believe she will carry on the spirit and work of our founder, Ellen St. John and will capably continue the excellent work and progress made under the leadership of volunteer co-directors Audrey Murray and Antoine Bourbon-Parme.
40 years ago a family whose cupboard was bare requested help. A kind and caring woman responded to that plea with food from her own kitchen. When there were more such requests, she again responded with the help of friends. Thus in 1977 began what became the Cooperstown Food Pantry.
“The Pantry” was first located in a supply cupboard in the Village Office building. The numbers of those we now call “food insecure” increased, and the cupboard became too small. In 1992 The Pantry moved to a room in the basement of the Church House of the First Presbyterian Church of Cooperstown. That room grew to two, then three and the volunteers increased to 80. Ellen St. John gathered food and supplies and coordinated volunteers for the first 30 years. As the pantry grew she was supported by the Ecumenical Council of Churches and joined the Feeding America network. She was joined in 2006 by yet another volunteer who became her co-director and eventually Ellen’s successor upon her retirement. That volunteer, Audrey Murray, continued Ellen’s tradition of caring and welcoming assistance and transitioned what began as an informal assistance to a formal association with the Presbyterian Church as its fiscal sponsor and the formation of an Oversight and Advisory Board. As the pantry grew yet again the volunteers became 100 and Antoine Bourbon-Parme became Audrey’s co-director.
In 2014 The Pantry moved into the renovated former Headstart Room on the first floor of the Church House and is open 10 – 4 Monday – Friday and 10 -12 every Saturday, serving over 200 families representing over 900 people each month. It’s mission to serve the residents of 2/3 of Otsego County now helps 45% of those in need of assistance in our county.