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August 25, 2021 - 2:12pm
posted by Joanne Beck in Oakfield, food pantry, news.

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Oakfield’s landscape just got more colorful, thanks to a mural painted on the outside of The Goose Community Center at 33 South Main St.

Painted by artist David Burke and Oakfield-Alabama High School alumni Megan and Stephanie Gilman, the open-air agricultural scene is just half the story of the building, co-owner Susan Zeliff says. Inside houses a food pantry, local group meetings, seasonal clothing, stamping classes, and a vision for the future.

“Our big picture for our building is to have a community room available …  for private gatherings (birthday parties, wedding showers, etc.) as well as community meals, anything that will bring the community together,” Zeliff said to The Batavian this week.  “We are planning on having a commercial kitchen and have had people in the community already ask about being able to use it for their canning or baking.”

Other projects on the horizon include a farm market to provide people with easier access to fresh foods, she said, and space for the many bakers and artisans in the community.

“We would love to provide them with a place to sell their creations,” Zeliff said. “We really want our community center to be for the community and to have as many community hands touch it as possible.”

Ever heard of the Goose? It has been a best-kept secret that has more recently been the topic of attention since the mural’s green pasture, farmland, and friendly cows showed up later this summer. The pantry actually began three years ago in a small section of Oakfield-Alabama school. It was moved to the South Main Street site in November 2020. Formerly a Yellow Goose more than a decade ago, the defunct building was dubbed as an acronym for God’s On Our Side Every day. The GOOSE program was an addition to Warrior House of Western New York, a nonprofit founded in 2015 by Zeliff and her husband Peter Zeliff Jr. 

Godly Warriors

Warrior House began as a way for the Zeliff couple to bring veterans together a few weekends a year to hunt on some of the couple’s farmland. 

“When we became aware of the need for food in our community we decided to add this program to our already existing nonprofit,” Mrs. Zeliff said.  “Our mission for the Warrior House started with veterans, who will always hold a special place in our hearts, but the reality of life is that many people in our community are in need of the camaraderie that we offer to our veterans.

The hunting events not only brought veterans together, she said, but also volunteers to provide the meals and guides to lead the hunts. Central to it all has been a sense of camaraderie, empathy, and healing around food, whether it’s a quick breakfast or lingering dinner. 

Some people may not understand what it is like to not be able to put food on the table or struggle to provide basic needs for one’s family, Mrs. Zeliff said.  

Tending to Need

“This is where the food pantry plays out,” she said.  “If we were not dealing with Covid I would challenge everyone to spend time in their child’s school.  You will truly see the cracks in your community if you do.  Children will tell you stories that will bring you to your knees and leave you holding back tears and not being able to sleep at night.”

Just as she envisions the big picture for the Goose, Mrs. Zeliff, of Oakfield, opens her eyes wide for her community. This project is about more than treating a symptom. It catches the residual “trickle-down effect” as well, she said.

“When your straight-A school-loving student sits in class with a child who has problems at home and brings them to school, that is directly impacting your family,” she said. “This is not just an Oakfield thing; this is a life thing happening everywhere.”

The Zeliffs are honored to be able to do what they can, even when it seems to be the simplest of tasks:  providing children and families with food to alleviate their current circumstances of having a hungry child, she said. The husband and wife team once each owned a business in Oakfield and have enjoyed the area, she said. 

When the dreadful Covid pandemic hit, the couple made another investment after the school pantry had to be moved out. Purchasing the Goose building was “an opportunity to serve more families in the community with their food needs,” Mrs. Zeliff said, crediting fellow helpers Katie Zimmerman, Bridget Campbell, Kendra Lamb, Candace George, Melissa Domoy, and Elementary School Principal Lynn Gehlert for establishing the new pantry location. A community garden, developed on land provided by Bonduelle and run by Audra Delpriore and a garden committee, contributes fresh vegetables and fruits. Foodlink is the consistent supplier of food for the pantry and community members, churches and businesses have been steadfast donors to the cause.

Inside Out

It seemed only natural to bring some of that generous allegiance outdoors with a piece of artwork for public view. Through a conversation with Tammy Hathaway of United Way, Mrs. Zeliff was directed to GO ART! for assistance with the project. The organization referred her to artists, including David Burke. 

Burke has been painting since he was a youngster, and his mural works can be seen in Bergen, Tonawanda, and Batavia. His artwork is to be featured in a show of paintings at GO ART! in Batavia this September.

Fellow artists Stephanie Gilman, an Oakfield-Alabama 2016 graduate, and Megan Gilman, a 2019 graduate, assisted Burke with the creation. The Gilmans have also created art for the Oak Grill Car Show T-shirts, the Town flag, and a design for Kenmore Mercy Hospital’s Quiet Hours signage.

The list goes on with other pantry helpers Oakfield-Alabama National Honor Society, Student Council, and other high schoolers that have painted, planted flowers, and/or worked at the pantry. Some 20 volunteers assist with pantry chores, organize clothing donations or hand out books to families.

And the Zeliffs are grateful for each one of them.

“It truly takes a lot of hands to make it all run smoothly and we are very blessed to have these hands,” Mrs. Zeliff said.  “It is important to us that our youth see the importance of caring for others in the community you live in.  They may grow up and move on to bigger or maybe even smaller communities, and we hope that what we are doing with this building will make them want to be an active part of any community they live in.  We want them to be the branch of an Oak tree where ever they go.  They are our future.”

Since opening the doors at 6 p.m. on Veteran’s Day last year, the Goose has served more than 100 families. The building interior is not exactly beautiful, she said, but “we are doing beautiful things within its walls.”  There have been lessons along the way, from the beauty of how conversations can open up new opportunities to how everyone is born with some type of gift, she said, and many people have generously offered what they have. She also added timing to a lesson learned.

“God totally has the steering wheel on this whole thing we are doing,” she said. “I am not typically a patient person, and this whole project has been slow, but it has been very steady and I can take no credit to that. I believe it is all God and it is definitely happening on his timeline.”

The pantry is open from 9 to 10 a.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month. Clothing and footwear are collected and distributed on a seasonal basis, from spring and summer items and back-to-school wear to winter coats and boots. 

This project was made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by GO ART!

Top photo by Arielle McVay. Photos below by Jim Burns.

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April 7, 2020 - 2:54pm

Press release:

In partnership with FoodLink of Rochester, The Salvation Army of Batavia is hosting a “Pop Up” mobile pantry on Wednesday, April 8, where individuals come in their cars and are provided fresh and shelf stable items distributed by volunteers into their trunks.

It will be held 9 a.m. in the parking lot of Northgate Free Methodist Church, North Campus, 8160 Bank Street Road, Batavia. One box per household. No deliveries will be available. There are a limited number of boxes available.

Currently, Salvation Army feeding programs are seeing a 50-percent increase in participation statewide.

“The reality is much more dire here in Batavia,” said Lieutenant Rachel Moore of The Salvation Army in Batavia. “Our pantry is quickly being depleted as the demand for food has dramatically increased during the COVID-19 crisis.”

According to Lt. Moore, The Salvation Army of Batavia is currently in need of donations to sustain its food pantry including:

  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Canned meat
  • Peanut butter and jelly
  • Cereal
  • Pasta and pasta sauce
  • Rice

“With the help of the community, we can continue to fulfill our mission of 'Doing the Most Good' during this unprecedented and uncertain time,” Lt. Moore said.

(Editor's note: The free food giveaway is not residency or income based and is available to all.)

March 28, 2020 - 12:14pm

Supplies are dwindling for basic food items stocked at the Corfu Presbyterian Church food pantry, located at 63 Alleghany Road, which is operated in partnership with St. Maximilian Kolbe Roman Catholic Church.

"We have a lot of elderly people, who used to go out to restaurants, relying on us," said pantry coodinator Paula Trapani.

If you can help, they are especially in need of:

  • Canned fruit and vegetables
  • SOUP, noodle cups, Top Ramen
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned chicken
  • Pasta
  • Pasta sauces
  • Canned tomato products, most assuredly ketchup
  • Peanut butter
  • Jelly and jam
  • Canned juice
  • Cereal and shelf-stable milk
  • Pancake mix and syrup

Trapani said meal items that can be prepared quickly are needed, adding that cake mix and canned frosting, or brownie and muffin mix would be nice treats, too.

The pantry is also running low on basic hygiene supplies and toiletries like soap and shampoo.

To help families pass the time during the COVID-19 pandemic, the pantry is also making room to stockpile puzzles, board games, hidden word search booklets and the like.

There will be someone at the church from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. Please leave items on the bench outside and someone will retrieve them.

If anyone has questions or needs to drop off items at another time, please contact Paula Trapani at (716) 423-1907.

One thing they do not need is frozen French fries.

"Our freezer is stuffed with bags of frozen French fries from a truck that caught fire last week, I believe on Route 5, and they were able to salvage quite a lot of French fries -- I'm not kidding," Trapani said, adding that the freezer at the St. Kolbe's also chock full of them.

So don't forget the ketchup, folks...

UPDATED at 1:46 a.m. Sunday, March 29: Forgot to include crackers; all kinds of crackers.

November 26, 2019 - 2:33pm
posted by Billie Owens in thanksgiving, food pantry, charity, Steve Hawley.

From Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

With Thanksgiving and the subsequent holiday season on the horizon, Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) is encouraging residents to consider donating some food or their time to a local food pantry or organization to help those who are less fortunate enjoy a warm Thanksgiving meal.

“It gives us perspective and appreciation to set aside time this week to reflect on all the good fortune and success we’ve had throughout the year and visit with family and friends who we may only see during this special time,” Hawley said.

“As you’re enjoying Thanksgiving and the holiday season, please remember that many of our neighbors are struggling. Taking the time to lift them up and offer encouragement will make us all stronger as a community. 

“Something as simple as a couple of cans of food or a box of stuffing will mean so much to a local family, and I encourage everyone who is able to donate a couple of items or their time to one of our local food pantries or organizations which do tremendous work this time of year."

Visit here to find a food pantry or donate to one of our local options here in Western New York:

Genesee County Food Pantries

  • Salvation Army -- 529 E. Main St., Batavia / Phone 343-6284
  • Community Action of Orleans and Genesee -- 5073 Clinton Street Road, Batavia / Phone 343-7798
  • Le Roy Pantry and Help Fund Inc. -- 48 Main St., Le Roy / Phone 768-4559
December 18, 2014 - 12:51pm
posted by Michele Lawson in community, food, free, Care-A-Van, Foodlink, food pantry.
Event Date and Time: 
January 14, 2015 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm

January 14th, 2015    5pm – 7pm

Care-A-Van Ministries 309 West Main Street, Batavia NY

(parking lot directly behind DirecTV and next door to Discovery Chapel)

March 17, 2014 - 2:12pm
posted by Billie Owens in Announcements, byron, bergen, food pantry.

Byron Presbyterian Church will partner with FoodLink of Rochester to host a Mobile Food Pantry from 10 to noon this Saturday, March 22, at Byron Presbyterian Church, 6293 W. Main St. (Route 262), Byron.

The exact food items available are not known, but fresh produce will be available. No financial documentation is required to receive food items, but those receiving food will be asked to sign in. The food items must be for your household unless you have signed documentation from an individual to pick up items for them.

The Mobile Food Pantry is available to residents of the Byron Bergen School District, but we will distribute to anyone who resides in Genesee County. There is no income verification required, but you must be 18 years old to pick up food from the pantry. Please provide your own bags/cart/vehicle to transport items to your home.

For more information, call Byron Presbyterian Church at (585) 548-2800.

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