ITHACA, N.Y. –– Immaculate Conception Food Pantry, on 113 N Geneva St., Ithaca has closed indefinitely due to asbestos contamination.

The pantry served up to 140 patrons a week and is the only pantry that can be utilized weekly by customers. The pantry was last open on Nov. 26, and served between 100-115 families.

Father Chumo of Immaculate Conception said the asbestos was found in the basement of the church, in the boiler room during a survey of the building. The basement houses the food pantry, as well as space for coffee hours and other ministry activities. At the time the asbestos was found, the space was being surveyed for possible renovations.

Chumo said that it is church policy to wait to receive three competitive bids from abatement companies before moving forward with any action. So far the church has only received one bid. It is unclear when abatement will move forward, or when the pantry could reopen.

“It’s very hard to say when we haven’t signed a contract,” Chumo said.

According to Feeding America statistics, 13.4% of people in Tompkins County are food insecure.

There are resources available for those in need. Pantries where customers can do a once-a-month pick-up include:

Baptized Church of Jesus Christ at 412 First Street, Ithaca

Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. 3rd Saturday, 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Ithaca Kitchen Cupboard at the Salvation Army 150 North Albany Street, Ithaca

Monday to Thursday, 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Southside Community Center 305 South Plain Street, Ithaca

First Saturday, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. Last Saturday, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and Emergency food packs, Monday through Friday, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Tompkins Community Action 701 Spencer Road, Ithaca

Tuesdays, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Overlook Apartments 200 W Hill Cir, Ithaca in the Community Room

Alternate Sundays (see schedule), 12 p.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Calvary Baptist Church Pantry 507 North Albany Street, Ithaca

Third Saturday, 12 p.m. to 2 p.m.

There are also takeaway bagged meals, three meals a day for three days for each person in a family, available at the Saint John’s Friendship Center, 618 West State Street, Ithaca Tuesday through Friday 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and Monday through Friday 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Individual meals are available Tuesday and Thursday at noon.

For a full list of food pantries available in Tompkins County click here. 

Loaves and Fishes of Tompkins County at St. John’s Episcopal Church, 210 North Cayuga Street, Ithaca offers meals Monday, Wednesday and Friday at noon and Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Since the closure of the Immaculate Conception food pantry, the Stick and Stone Farm has been donating the produce that they would normally have donated to the Immaculate Conception food pantry to Loaves and Fishes of Tompkins County, which they incorporate into the free meals they serve.

Christina Culver, Executive Director of Loaves and Fishes of Tompkins County, said there has been a slight uptick in meals and the use of the emergency groceries they supply in addition to meals since the pantries closing. She also commented on the extreme need for programming to help those in need in the community.

“Relative to other counties in New York we have notably more resources to help people meet their basic needs –– including food,” she said. “But considering the amount of people who are in need, we’re not meeting the needs of everybody or getting close to that.”

Anna Lamb

Anna Lamb is a reporter for the Ithaca Voice. Questions? Story tips? Contact her at alamb@ithacavoice.com