Gloversville Salvation Army on the front line

GLOVERSVILLE – The local Salvation Army has watched its partnership with Hannaford gleaning program grow substantially in recent years from a few loafs of bread to include dairy, produce and, at times, meat.

“It started off receiving day-old bread and fresh produce that didn’t meet [Hannaford’s] standards,” said Lt. Mark Devanney of Gloversville’s Salvation Army at the corner of Spring and Elm streets. “The produce is still good, but it may be like an apple with a bruise or bananas with a few brown spots.”

Devanney and his wife, Anne Marie, pick up the food items from the town of Johnstown’s Hannaford four days a week and from Amsterdam’s Hannaford two days a week.

“The receiver at Hannaford realized there was more they could donate,” said Devanney. “For example, dairy. They have to pull the dairy three days before the [good until] sale date, but it is still good for another week.”

The gleaning program also started getting products such as Little Debbies, Heidemann bread and Panera home bread items.

“They also started giving us meat not sold by the sell date – the meat is still good, but they can’t legally sell it.”

Then the chip company started giving the program their pulls as well.

Hannaford adopted a no-waste policy and they became corporate partners with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, of which the food programs at the Salvation Army is associated with.

Devanney said the gleaning program, along with the food pantry and soup kitchen (Sally’s Cafe), all utilize the food donated by Hannaford.

Devanney said in July, the gleaning program helped over 1,500 families – the summer months see more people since school is not in session. And since January, it has helped 8,365 families.

To participate in the gleaning program, Devanney said unlike the food pantry, there are no income guidelines. People are asked to sign in so the organization can keep a count on the number of people they help, but there are no forms to fill out.

Devanney said how much they are able to give out to the people who show up for the gleaned products depends on how much they are given.

“What we have depends on how much people are able to get,” said Devanney. “We try not to limit the produce, but if we have lots of people, we have to limit how much of an item they can take.”

Last week, he said, they received over 50 cases of milk.

“That’s over 200 gallons,” said Devanney. “So we brought milk to other agencies, the police department, the ambulance corps.”

The couple said the soup kitchen feeds between 400 and 600 people each month.

“I tell people when they eat at Sally’s Cafe, they are going to have a home-cooked meal made with love,” said Anne Marie, who has taken on the soup kitchen as her “baby.”

“We want to get rid of the stigma of a soup kitchen – I tell them I will cook for them as I do for my family. There is every demographic – these are families, people you’d see on the street and wouldn’t know they need a soup kitchen.”

Calling it a “socializing time,” Anne Marie said people need the companionship of others as well and find it during the kitchen’s operating hours.

They also take the gleaning program to Dubois Gardens on Fridays, bringing meat, dairy, produce and bread to those who may not be able to get to the center. It is also open to anyone who walks up, said Devanney.

“If they’re closer to that location, they can go to that program,” he said.

“What we don’t distribute there, we take to the [Gloversville Housing Authority’s] towers,” said Anne Marie.

The couple has also recently started an after-school program.

In addition to a snack, participating families are also offered dinner.

“We are serving kids and their families four days a week,” said Anne Marie. “The kids are served dinner regardless and their families are invited as well,” said Anne Marie, adding there are 12 families who presently participate in the after-school program.

The Devanneys, who have been at the local Salvation Army for the past year, say along with the Hannaford, the program’s success also depends on volunteers.

“I will put anyone to work who shows up,” said Anne Marie. “We are always looking for help when people are willing and able. We really need hands and feet. We need consistent volunteers. We use to have some churches that would dedicate a set day and would come in, cook, feed and clean up – we can use help.”

Devanney said people can also donate food or money to the programs, but the item cannot be cooked at home.

“For the soup kitchen we need shelf-stable or freezer items,” he said. “But it can’t be an item cooked at home – they can bring it here and cook it in our kitchen if they want.”

For more information or to help, call 725-4119.

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