By Alicia Dziak 

One hundred and sixty-eight families get that little something extra from the Ellicottville Food Pantry each month. Numerous volunteers donate their time to assure the pantry runs smoothly. One community comes together to make the vision of helping neighbors a reality.

“All of Ellicottville has brought us to where we are today,” said Shelly Kibby, the food pantry’s volunteer director who spearheaded a recent effort to get the pantry some much-needed improvements.

While public assistance programs, such as food stamps, help many of those in need, sometimes it’s just not enough.

“People never know when they’re going to need the food pantry,” noted Nancy Rogan, another food pantry volunteer.

While the food pantry is not meant to provide all meals each month, people look to them to supplement their needs.

“The food pantry is meant to supply nine healthy meals per month,” stated Kibby.

As the food pantry has grown and continues to serve more and more families, not only in Ellicottville, but in other towns such as East Otto, Mansfield, Little Valley, Great Valley and more, it became evident that it also needed some upgrades.

“The freezer (we were using) needed some work,” Kibby explained, noting that the pantry often had to borrow the church’s freezer, and even put items in the snow banks at times in the winter months.

With money available from fundraisers and donations, the food pantry staff was able to save enough for a new freezer. Kibby used her negotiating skills to find a vendor who gave them a great price, and, to her surprise, with the deep discount, they were also able to afford a new commercial-grade refrigerator.

Renovations began in March. A good-sized space, previously used as a classroom by the church, was transformed into the new storage room that houses the new freezer and fridge, as well as new shelving.

An adjacent room is used for storage of canned and boxed goods, as well as personal items, such as shampoo.

It’s clear that the food pantry volunteers are proud of the new set-up, as they should be—while there is no “before” picture, the new space is bright and organized, and it’s obvious how excited everyone is to show off a huge freezer full of meat and a refrigerator full of fresh produce.

“We’ve grown because of Shelly,” said Nancy Rogan, another volunteer at the food pantry. “She has a knack with people, and never makes them feel like they are anything less than wonderful.”

Kibby, who moved to Ellicottville just a couple of years ago, has really made her mark in this small town, and she beams when she talks about the people of Ellicottville and all its community members banding together to make the food pantry a success. Whether it’s helping to unload trucks, picking up shipments of food, making a monetary donation or being available to lend a helping hand wherever and whenever needed, Kibby can’t emphasize enough how Ellicottville comes together to make the food pantry a success.

The Ellicottville Food Pantry, located in the United Church of Ellicottville, is located at 53 Elizabeth Street. Monetary donations are gratefully accepted and can be sent to the Ellicottville Food Pantry, c/o United Church of Ellicottville, 53 Elizabeth Street, Ellicottville, NY 14731.