By Ginna Hensel

“Everyone is Welcome, Everyone is Loved, Everyone is Family”

The motto of Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church is one its members try to apply in the community and live it out in their day-to-day lives.

This is most recently evident in the establishment of a food pantry at the Great Valley Town Hall to help struggling residents of Great Valley and Humphrey with food assistance.  

Josh Bower, the coordinator of the pantry — along with dozens of other community members from Ellicottville, Great Valley and Humphrey — have been working together to create the first Great Valley Food Pantry, which held its first day in operation Saturday, Oct. 26.

The idea stemmed from the Lutheran Church trying for different types of outreach. Bower commented the “town centers” of Great Valley and Humphrey are one of the few places that don’t have a food pantry in the area. 

The church tactfully began to gage the response from the community by conduction polls. The community gave the impression it would be well received and accepted. Thus, the small dream was born.  

“There were lots of people from Great Valley that helped them get it off the ground running,” Bower said.

In fact, the church experienced a slew of signups and donations the day after the project was announced earlier this fall. The church held a sign up day at the Great Valley Town Hall Oct. 19 where more community members came out to pledge their support.  What started off as a small dream has already sprung into a bigger reality.  

The initial sign up day was a success, Bower reported, with many members of the Ellicottville, Great Valley and Humprey communities that came out to show their support. The Food Pantry was able to sign up and process dozens of members of each community along with gaining the support of other members. In addition, Bower mentioned that other people stopped to see how they could help.

Overall, the pantry has already received an enormous amount of support in such a short period of time. The Lutheran Church in Ellicottville has already received over a thousand items of usable food products. Along with food products being donated from the Baptist and Methodist churches in Great Valley and local businesses, the pantry has already stockpiled enough food to sustain them through their first opening.

Bower proudly reported that the pantry’s road to success has been smooth sailing so far.

“Jinx, knock on wood,” he joked. “Other than my occasional lack of patience, everything has gone according to plan.”

While planning the pantry has been time consuming planning and organizing there are no known problems to date. 

Bower would also like to thank everyone who has helped out so far. St. Paul’s hopes to be a successful and helpful resource in the future to help assist the community. Bower also wants to give everyone a big thank you to everyone who has helped so far.  

If you would like to get involved with the Great Valley Food Pantry, you can stop and drop off non-perishable food items Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

If you would like to know if you are eligible for food assistance from the pantry visit to review the income guidelines.  If you are eligible, the Great Valley-Humphrey food drive is held on the last two Saturdays of each month at the Great Valley Town Hall from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.