With demand higher than ever, the Chautauqua County Rural Ministry carried on with its annual Thanksgiving meal delivery to needy families Monday, just weeks after the passing of beloved longtime Executive Director Kathleen Peterson.
“We know that this is something she would want us to continue,” said Bridget Majka, the Rural Ministry’s director of programs. “She was a wonderful force.”
The organization distributed meals to about 120 families Monday at its headquarters on Washington Avenue in Dunkirk. “That adds up to over 500 people,” Majka said.
“I think it is up a little more this year than the past couple years by 30 or 40 families,” Majka added. When the OBSERVER spoke with Peterson last November, she said the number of families who received baskets in 2021 was “somewhere in the 80s.”
Majka said the food comes in “a box so they can prepare it at home. It’s traditional things — potatoes, yams, cranberries.” This year, the ministry’s child care center put together ingredients, and a recipe, for a green bean casserole.
“It’s quite a nice meal to take home,” Majka said.
Overall demand for the Rural Ministry’s food pantry has “been steadily up, honestly, since COVID, and it hasn’t stopped going up,” she added.
There was concern back in August about the organization’s funding — one of its key grantors, the Nourish NY program, had just had its administration switched between departments in Albany, leading to bureaucratic delays. However, Majka said Monday, “We found funding from a different source… we’re moving ahead.”