Library's new food pantry fills quickly with donations

ContributedThe Morris Library food pantry and free book collection are seen at the library Thursday, Jan. 9.

When three Morris Library staff members decided to start a miniature food pantry at the library last month, they didn’t expect it to garner as much community support as it did.

Library manager Katherine Lee and clerks Emily Foote Canney and Jean Valentine installed the food pantry in the library just before Christmas this year, Lee said.

“It kind of exploded with food,” Canney said.

Foote Canney said at the time, there weren’t any food pantries in Morris. The closest one was in Gilbertsville, she said. When the library was collecting boxes of food last year for the food pantry in Gilbertsville, Lee said a man asked if he could take home some boxes.

Around the same time, Lee said, she read an article about a man who started a mini food pantry outside of his house.

“I said ‘You know what? That would be a good idea to help people in Morris and New Lisbon and Garrattsville, and people who cannot get outside of town,” Lee said.

The Morris Library food pantry began as a small bookcase at the entrance of the library, Lee said. Foote Canney said people walking in were pleased to see the library was providing this service.

“I think the library’s main goal is to help and care for the people in the town and provide for them,” Foote Canney said.

The mini food pantry quickly reached maximum capacity, she said, because it was being replenished faster than it was being depleted.

“We had this overwhelming response for donations so we decided to move it into our backroom, which was known as a book freebie room,” Lee said. “So now it is a book and food room.”

People are still donating more food than is being taken, Lee said. If anyone wants to contribute, smaller nonperishable items are recommended as opposed to large boxes or bulk food, Lee said. 

Until March, the library operates on winter hours which are 1 to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. Visit for the most up-to-date hours.

The estimated food insecurity rate in Otsego County in 2015 was 11.9%, according to a 2017 community needs assessment compiled by Opportunities for Otsego. 

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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