OLEAN — The line was long, and the need was great, this week for people waiting to receive fresh produce, canned food and toiletry items from the mobile food pantry provided by the Food Bank of Western New York at the Olean Food Pantry.
DB Busan, manager of the Olean Food Pantry warehouse on Leo Moss Drive, said the monthly distribution by the Food Bank of Buffalo typically attracts dozens of families. Recipients do not have to be signed up as regular clients with the Olean Food Pantry, but are asked to provide verification of where they live for the monthly distribution. Last month’s mobile food pantry provided supplies to 107 families, or 460 people.
“It’s not income-based so anybody in the county can come and it keeps growing,” Busan said while standing at one of the distribution tables. “It’s good stuff for your pantry.”
Busan said one change with this week’s distribution were the added supplies donated by the former Olean Wholesale Grocery company.
“We got a lot of (donated supplies) when Olean Wholesale closed,” she added. “They brought a lot of household items and personal care items for (recipients) to take home.”
She noted the supplies from Olean Wholesale were a nice surprise for the pantry.
“It’s been wonderful, our warehouse is full to the roof,” she commented.
Busan said the mobile food pantry distribution takes place the fourth Wednesday of every month, except December.
“They sign up at noon and the truck comes at 1 (p.m.),” she said regarding the recipients. “We never know what (supplies) we’re getting so it’s kind of like Christmas to us.”
She said the pantry is grateful to the 20 to 25 volunteers who regularly sign up to help with the distribution, which is held inside during inclement weather.
“They’re mostly just local folks, but some of them are regular volunteers who volunteer on regular pantry days,” she said, noting the Ancient Order of Hibernians of Olean offer a lot of help at the distributions.
A grandmother waiting in line with a grandchild said the distribution of food and toiletry items helps her make ends meet with her food stamps.
“It does help, especially because they have soap today,” she said while holding up a plastic dispenser for hand soap donated from Olean Wholesale supplies. “Believe it or not, I used to be a home care worker and these (hand soap dispensers) are miracles. (Recipients) get food stamps for food, but as far as the soaps go, they can’t get it.”
A veteran in line agreed that the mobile pantry helps him with his monthly food needs.
“It helps — every little bit helps,” the veteran remarked.
For more information on volunteering at the food pantry or making donations, call 372-4989.