GLOVERSVILLE - On the first Thursday of every month, a crowd gathers at the farmers market pavilion on Elm Street.
Hundreds of people line up to get something they need - food.
"We are trying to make a difference and help a lot of families in the area," Pastor Wil Sharpe said Thursday as about 700 people were stopping by to pick up produce, bread, milk, eggs and other food items at no charge. "These volunteers dedicate their time every month to help other people."
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Lenny DeLong, left, of Perth receives free food from the Rev. Wil Sharpe of the First Free Methodist Church of Gloversville during the Mass Food event at the Elm Street pavilion in Gloversville Thursday.
The frigid winter temperatures didn't prevent the volunteers of the First Free Methodist Church from lending a hand to families in need at Thursday morning's Mass Food event.
The food is provided by the church through the Regional Food Bank in Latham.
The church recently moved the location to the pavilion because it didn't have enough room for all the people who were coming into the church, Sharpe said.
"We also recognized a lot of people in the area don't have the transportation; we had a lot of walk-ins," Sharpe said. "This location provides a lot more access to people within the city. Our goal is to help the many needy families of this community."
He said the church is looking for a building in the city to host the event.
Sharpe said the church originally planned to only host the Mass Food event until October, but he and the volunteers realized the need doesn't stop once the temperature drops.
"The majority of our volunteers have used the food ministry themselves and really understand the need; they just want to give back," Sharpe said.
One of the volunteers, Jean Ann Cline, said she is thrilled to be a part of the event because of how many families they can help in just a few hours.
"This is a wonderful project because so many people can get fresh produce," Cline said. "I really think this is God's gift in a very big little way."
Over the last two years, the First Free Methodist Church and its volunteers have provided food on the first Thursday of every month starting at 9 a.m. The church also gives out canned and dry goods, produce, bread and meat every Tuesday from 4 to 6 p.m. and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon at the church at 1200 County Highway 122.
City resident Veronica Bindulski said she arrived at the pavilion at 7 a.m. Thursday with a lawn chair to avoid the long lines. She brought extra hats and gloves for people who arrive early in the cold.
"This is really great because I live alone and it saves me money so I can spend it on my grandchildren," Bindulski said. "It is also great to be around and talk to all of these people."
Lenny DeLong said he comes to the food event every month to help him and his mother save money.
"Just getting some extra food to put on the table really helps," DeLong said. "Believe me, it comes in handy to have this available to us."
The church will accept donations, but no donations are required to receive food, Sharpe said.
He said the event is free to the church and community thanks to a state grant through the Regional Food Bank. The items vary from one month to the next, but there is always enough food, Sharpe said.
He said no food will go to waste because food that isn't taken is delivered and donated to other agencies and programs in the area such as Meals on Wheels.
The Salvation Army at 10 Spring St. has a similar event called Gleaning, where the Salvation Army hands out produce and baked goods every Monday and Thursday at 11 a.m. The food is donated by Price Chopper and Hannaford, Lt. Javon Anderson said.
"The Gleaning is open to anyone that is hungry," Lt. Jennifer Anderson said. "Our food pantry is limited because people are only able to come every 60 days and there are certain income requirements, so this allows us to help a lot more people in the area."
"It allows those families that may not qualify for the other food programs that are provided to get a little help, too," Javon Anderson added. "It is really a win-win situation for the businesses and people in the community."
Levi Pascher can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.