NY church evicts food pantry

March 16, 2009 3:03:45 PM PDT
For 27 years Lorraine Buonocunto has run the ecumenical food pantry from the annex of St. Matthew's Lutheran church in White Plains. But a major budget deficit recently prompted church leaders to make a difficult decision. The pantry must move out by the end of May.

"I always thought churches were there to help people, money wasn't the issue. It was what we can do to help the person, so I'm a little surprised at that," Buonocunto said.

The pantry pays the church about 112-dollars a week for food storage. That's nowhere near enough, Pastor Eric Mathsen said, to close a 70-thousand deficit in the church's 230-thousand dollar annual budget.

"We want to act pro-actively now so that we can continue all of our ministries. If we fold there is no benefit to anybody," he said.

In place of the food pantry, Pastor Mathsen hopes to generate additional rental income from a different type of ministry. Buonocunto said the pantry serves about 90 people each week, handing out free food and clothing to those in need.

"The Parish Council will take a serious look and whatever we do it will serve the community needs and all types of needy people," Mathsen said.

Buonocunto remains hopeful.

"I'm sure we are going to find another home because in God's good time things happen," she said.

Pastor Mathsen told us he will do everything in his power to help the pantry find a new home. In fact, on Wednesday he'll raise the issue at an Interfaith Clergy Conference with the hope some other church will pick up where St. Matthew's left off.


NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS

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