Saratoga Springs organizations team up for donation drive

WAMC Northeast Public Radio | By Aaron Shellow-Lavine
Published March 11, 2024 at 4:53 PM EDT

A monthlong food donation drive is continuing in Saratoga Springs.

The Friends of the Saratoga Springs Public Library is partnering with the Franklin Community Center on the drive. Development Director Mary Beth McGarrahan says that the Franklin Community Center is always looking for new partners to collect donations as food pantry demand grows.

“From 2022-2023, overall, the food pantry increased by 32% of food packages going out to individuals or families in need. So, that’s a huge, massive increase. But our support hasn’t, you know from the regional food bank and other sources hasn’t necessarily increased. So, even more so we’re relying on community members to help us keep our shelves stocked,” said McGarrahan.

The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York provides McGarrahan’s organization with most of the food it distributes. But there’s a 40% gap between what they get from the food bank and what they need in order to meet local demand.

According to a recent New York State Department of Health report, more than 16% of adults in Saratoga County face food insecurity.

Saratoga Springs Public Library Director Isaac Pulver says the partnership was natural.

“We believe in making sure that people are fed holistically. If that means their bodies, their minds their souls, you know, we’re here for the whole person. And we certainly serve a crossover clientele with all of the social service agencies in the community,” said Pulver.

McGarrahan agrees.

“But if you go and you spend any time at all in the library, you’ll see that their staff and their volunteers are regularly welcoming people who may be homeless or may not have anywhere to go during the day. And maybe having difficulty with their resources. So, they are an incredible support for those in our community, and so it just seemed like a natural thing to partner up with them for something like this, said McGarrahan.

Prior to the pandemic, the library had held a number of collaborative food drives. Since the library’s coffee shop reopened over the summer, says Friends of the Saratoga Springs Public Library Executive Director Jennifer Allen, the renewed partnership is a win-win.

“So, this is just another way that we can get the word out and encourage people to come in. And you can actually—we sell perishables in the coffee shop so there’s actually things that you could buy in the coffee shop and put right into the bin to donate while you’re there,” said Allen.

Allen explained the reasoning behind holding the donation drive in March.

“During the holidays, everybody is out there supporting and helping and providing resources for people that might need them. And by March and April the supply really diminishes and people have kind of moved on. So, we thought this would be a nice time to give another boost to be able to help those who need a little extra help,” explained Allen.

Donations of non-perishables and toiletries are being accepted by the library through the end of the month.