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Canton food pantry thriving; New director expected to start in late June


CANTON -The volume of food received by the Canton Church & Community Program from the Central New York Food Bank has grown from 7,419 pounds in 2010 to 57,384 pounds last year, a trend that outgoing Director Catherine E. Mathews hopes will continue after her Friday resignation.

“My mission has been to take care of the people,” Ms. Mathews said as she reflected on her three years at the helm of the not-for-profit program. “That has always been the bottom line.”

The program operates a food pantry and thrift shop at 7 Main St. that serves individuals and families from Canton, DeKalb, Russell, Hermon, Rensselaer Falls and Clare.

The food pantry and thrift shop will be closed for cleaning and renovations from June 1 to June 15. Janet A. Stitt, president of the program’s board, said roughly 25 people applied for the director’s job to replace Ms. Mathews.

“We’ve hired a replacement, but we’re not prepared yet to make an announcement,” Mrs. Stitt said. “An announcement is forthcoming.”

She said volunteers will staff the program from June 16 until the new director starts, most likely at the end of June.

Mrs. Stitt said the program has existed since 1974, and she’s confident it will continue to thrive.

“There’s no question the program will continue. With the help of the community, it will grow,” she said.

In dollar figures, the value of food from the Syracuse-based food bank climbed from $5,136 to $86,019 between 2010 and 2013, according to figures provided by Ms. Mathews.

Last year, about 500 families received food boxes filled with meat, fresh produce, boxed and canned goods, bread and more from the agency’s food pantry. Enough food for about 93,000 meals was served, up from 70,000 in 2012.

At this rate, this year’s figure is expected to surpass 100,000 meals, Ms. Mathews said.

She said knowing how to maximize the offerings from the Central New York Food Bank has helped her increase the volume of food that finds its way to the program’s food pantry. The food comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“You find out how to maximize the system to get the most donated food from the Central New York Food Bank at the best prices,” Ms. Mathews said.

Mrs. Stitt said Ms. Mathews will be missed by the clients served by the program.

“Cathy has been a very caring person in dealing with out people. Her empathy and compassion are great. She’s been extremely compassionate and caring and she will be missed,” Mrs. Stitt said

Ms. Mathews has said that she is leaving the job because she had philosophical differences with the program’s board of directors.

The board is comprised of two representatives from six Canton churches: Unitarian Universalist, Grace Episcopal, St. Mary’s Catholic, United Methodist, Seventh-day Adventist and First Presbyterian.

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