(Left to right) Saratoga-Wilton Elks Members Ed Decker, Ben Buffa, Marge Mohrmann and Gail Decker; and Wilton Food Pantry Director Peter Maynard. Photo by Deborah McCabe.
WILTON – For months, members of the Saratoga-Wilton Elks Lodge #161 have discussed what they call “a critical need’ in the community: identifying and helping those seniors who can no longer drive themselves to the grocery store.
Last week, in partnership with St. Clement’s Church and the Wilton Food Pantry at 155 Ballard Road, the first 10 grocery deliveries were made as part of a new Senior Food Delivery Outreach Program managed by Elks member Ben Buffa.
“Qualifications for the program are that seniors must be 55 years or older, live in Saratoga County, meet certain income limits and not have access to reliable transportation,” the Elks reported in a statement.
Peter Maynard, director of the Wilton Food Pantry, said he expects regular grocery deliveries through the new program to increase from the current 10 to more than 40 within a couple of months.
“These are seniors who are not exactly doing really well,” Maynard explained, noting how tenants of rent-subsidized communities are the primary recipients.
“Each senior is given a menu of food items generally available,” the Elks statement indicated. “Food deliveries occur on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. These orders are picked up and delivered by volunteers of the Elks Lodge to the location’s community rooms between 1 to 2 p.m.”
Maynard expressed confidence that supplies are sufficient to accommodate the new Elks program.
Every year, he said, the Wilton Food Pantry obtains grocery items weighing “tens of thousands of pounds” through its own partnership with the Regional Food Bank in Latham. Three times a week, groceries are picked up at the Weibel Avenue Hannaford and supplemented as needed by the Latham branch.
“We’re in an enviable position of being resource-rich,” Maynard said.
In addition, the Wilton Town Board allocates more than $2,000 to the food pantry in its annual budget. Area churches and volunteer groups provide further support.
Maynard shared statistics from 2017 showing that, in total, more than 660 “unique patrons” obtained grocery items at the Wilton Food Pantry. That number includes 76 seniors, 396 adults and nearly 200 children.
For more information, call Buffa at 518-480-7172 or visit www.wiltonfoodpantry.org.