Stewart’s Shop and the Hartford Food Pantry team up to fight school hunger

The Hartford Food Pantry, located in the Baptist Church on Main St, distributes food to the needy. The Pantry is in need of volunteer workers to help it operate every other Saturday (April 5, April 19, May 3, etc.) from 9 – 10:30am. If you have the time available and can help, please call Pete Klaiber 632-9267.

The below story is in Thursday’s Post Star newspaper. Dana

HARTFORD — Peter Klaiber, director of the Hartford Food Pantry, had seen stories in the national press about people donating money so needy children could pay for their school lunches.

So when Stewart Shop’s contacted him about a $400 donation from its Stewart’s Holiday Match Program, he put two and two together.

The donation, which comes from the company matching customers’ donations during the holidays, is intended for local residents 18 and under, and the shop sits directly across Route 40 from the high school.

In a letter to Stewart’s, Klaiber summed up the pantry’s situation.

“While our pantry served 685 households in 2013 consisting of 2,229 family members (approximately 50 percent being children), we serve families not only from Hartford but throughout Washington County. We are one of the few area pantries with no residency requirement. If you need help, we will do our best to help. We understand people don’t come to a pantry because they want to.

“Having said all that, we challenged ourselves as to how we could do something to directly benefit the children of Hartford,” he wrote.

When Klaiber looked at local issues, and recalled something he has seen on national news, he asked Stewart’s if the money could be used to reduce the lunch charges for those students and families who may have struggled at times paying for lunch.

“This is a way to ensure your donation directly benefits the youth of Hartford. Your donation to us will still be going for food, only difference being we will have the school/cafeteria administer on our behalf.”

Klaiber, who said he saw this as an effective way for the food pantry to fulfill it’s goals and those of the company’s, received permission from the school and Stewart’s, and the program will go into effect.

“The Hartford Central School District is extremely grateful for the generous donation from Stewart’s and the Hartford Food Pantry,” Superintendent Andrew Cook said. “The donated money will be used to help reduce the lunch charges for those students and families who may have struggled, at times, paying for their lunch.”

Town Supervisor Dana Haff is a regular customer at the store.

“I am grateful to Stewart’s for caring about the Hartford community,” Every year when Stewart’s has this fund drive, I always donate the change I get back from the cash register into the can. I never really knew where the money went but I trusted Stewart’s to find a worthy cause.”

The food pantry is in the Baptist Church and is open from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturdays.