ITHACA, N.Y. — The food pantry at Tompkins Community Action has closed its doors temporarily as construction for Amici House is set to begin.

The closing will impact at least 60 households pantry weekly and more than 500 people that used the pantry per month, according to figures from Lee Dillon, executive director of Tompkins Community Action and the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.

There are other pantries local residents can turn to. There are about 20 food pantries opened scattered hours in Tompkins County, though many of those pantries specifically serve people in their communities.

The pantry at Tompkins Community Action, located at 701 Spencer Road in Ithaca, had been open Mondays and Tuesdays and was one of the few open to any resident of Tompkins County.

Without the pantry at Tompkins Community Action, Ithaca residents in need can use the Rescue Mission Friendship Center, Immaculate Conception Church Food Pantry and Ithaca Kitchen Cupboard, according to a list maintained by the Human Services Coalition of Tompkins County. There are also mobile food pantries and other small pantries that open once or twice a month.

Food insecurity is no small issue in Tompkins County.

In Tompkins County, there are nearly 14,000 people considered food insecure, according to the Food Bank of the Southern Tier.

Households that struggle with food insecurity lack the financial resources for food which can mean they eat lower-quality food and have their eating patterns disrupted. Thousands of people in the county turn to food pantries to help them get by.

Hundreds of people used the pantry at Tompkins County Action, and in 2016, food pantries that partner with the Food Bank of the Southern Tier reported serving more than 30,000 households.

Dillon said Tompkins Community Action was not thinking of closing the pantry at all initially, but after meeting with construction workers, she said it was clear they have to close for construction.

The pantry at Tompkins Community Action will be closed for about a year for construction of Amici House, a project that will create 23 apartments for people between the ages of 18 and 25 who are homeless. Amici House will provide permanent supportive housing, which is needed in Tompkins County, and also have a commercial training kitchen and community space. The project is designed to provide housing as well as employment training and life skills.

Related: Lifton announces $3.7 million in funds for TCAction’s Amici House

No employees were impacted by the pantry’s closing, Dillon said.

Matt Griffin, director of agency services at the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, said about 565 people used the food pantry at Tompkins Community Action per month.

“TCA is an indispensable community action agency that provides access to many services, such as Head Start and Energy Services which will continue without disruption. According to communication we received from Lee Dillon, TCA Executive Director, the pantry will be closed for about 1 year effective July 1. TCA alerted pantry visitors, community programs and other food pantries about the changes so that people in need can get food and other grocery items from other community resources,” Griffin said in an email.

Dillon said Tompkins Community Action plans to break ground on Amici House by September or October. In addition to the pantry closing, Tompkins Community Action has moved its office, including the Head Start and housing programs and staff, to Clinton Plaza temporarily.

Resources

For food pantry times, community meals, locations and additional information, visit the following sites:

Featured stock image: “Healthy food pantry options” by Salvation Army USA West is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Kelsey O'Connor

Kelsey O'Connor is the managing editor for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at koconnor@ithacavoice.com and follow her on Twitter @bykelseyoconnor.