WELLSVILLE — As Joe Biden took the presidential oath of office Wednesday in Washington, D.C., in snowy Allegany County people were already queuing up for the monthly food distribution.
It wasn’t on purpose that Kerri Potter picked Inauguration Day for the food distribution.
“I just try to pick a date in the middle of the month that is easy for people to get to,” said Potter, the ACCORD emergency enrollment and service manager.
ACCORD is one of the agencies that has been organizing food giveaways during the coronavirus pandemic.
The food giveaway was scheduled to start at 3 p.m., but Potter said, people often start lining up in the morning well before the boxes of food are placed in their cars.
“It shows how some people really need the food,” she said.
There is no registration for the food giveaway beyond posting one’s zip code and age on the windshield. That information is needed for ACCORD to compile statistics to be used in seeking grants.
At each distribution, they give away enough food to feed 300 families and rarely have any leftover. What remains after the last car drives through goes to ARC or to the ACCORD food pantry in Belmont.
Potter said that ever since the coronavirus shutdowns started, ACCORD has tried to organize two giveaways a month, at different locations — the Allegany County fairgrounds, schools and at the colleges. Wednesday’s giveaway was on the Wellsville campus of Alfred State College.
The food is provided by Foodlink and some local distributors such as Saputo of Friendship.
“What we have is predetermined by Foodlink,” she said.
The boxes (usually three) contain some fresh produce, meat, and a variety of dairy products such as yogurt, cottage cheese and sour cream and some canned goods and dry goods.
When the Foodlink trucks arrive at the distribution site volunteers, unload the boxes. The volunteers range from employees of ACCORD and Cooperative Extension but also college and high school students and miscellaneous volunteers. Those who want to take part in the distribution need only contact ACCORD to help.
In cooperation with the Cuba Cultural Center and Foodlink the distribution sites and times are arranged.
“We’re doing the best we can to find locations that work for people,” Potter said noting that traffic flow and not blocking highways is important.
The food distributions are open to anyone.
“We want anyone who needs it to come to the distribution. It doesn’t matter if they are a single person in their family,” she said. “If they need to, they can give the food to others who might be in need. We just want to see the food utilized.”
For other food needs during the month, the ACCORD Food Pantry is open in Belmont from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Appointments must be made due to COVID-19. The food can be picked up without contact.
Call (585) 268-7605 at Option 2.
The next mass food distribution takes place on Feb. 17 at a site yet to be determined.