Cold welcome

MIFFLINTOWN – The Juniata County Food Pantry cut the ceremonial red ribbon for its new walk-in freezer and cooler Thursday evening. The new appliance allows for an increase in food storage to meet the needs of area residents, said Kathy Queitzsch, executive director.

“To meet the 40-fold increase in service since 1982, the food pantry has grown accordingly from its modest start in the basement of a church,” Queitzsch said. “I am incredibly proud and exceedingly humble to have been a part of … the Juniata County Food Pantry (and) its history.”

Installing a large freezer to meet the increasing demand has been in the works for more than five years, Queitzsch said. The pantry has grown from serving 47 households a month, in 2007, to 331 households a month this year.

According to a press release issued by the food pantry, however, the project was consistently put on hold due to lack of funding. The organization was forced to store cold foods in off-site locations, some as far away as Reedsville.

In 2012, the Thompsontown Baptist Church Men’s Group found a food service company, from western Pennsylvania, donating walk-in freezers to non-profits and was able to transport the parts to Juniata County.

The pantry then received $4,179 in donations from local churches and organizations, as well as $5,275 in grant money early this year. With the help of volunteers, the pantry began renovations for the installation and completed set-up at the end of September.

Bob Davis, president of the Juniata County Food Pantry Board of Directors, thanked the community for its support through this process: “Thank you for your help and support Through your donations of food, monetary gifts and volunteer hours, we can insure the future of the food pantry’s mission for our neighbors in poverty.”

The Juniata County Food Pantry is now collecting donations for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, including turkeys, hams, cranberry sauce, stuffing, canned sweet potatoes, instant mashed potatoes, gravy mix packets and dessert mixes.

The food pantry, located at 114 N. Main St., Mifflintown, is accepting food donations during the operating hours of 2 to 6 p.m., Monday and Wednesday, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday. Non-perishable donations may be left at any time. Cash, check or gift card donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 44, Mifflintown, 17059. For more information, contact the Juniata County Food Pantry at 436-9718.