Kali photo/Christopher Johnson
The Oneida Nation Emergency Food Pantry, located at N7372 Water Circle Place, has seen a 50 percent increase in clients utilizing their services in recent weeks. Volunteers continue to keep the facility running and serving the community.
With so much uncertainty across the Oneida Nation Reservation across the past few months, the Oneida Nation Emergency Food Pantry has seen a 50 percent increase in citizens seeking help with food in recent weeks. Marlon Skenandore, Emergency Food Pantry Manager, says this has been a trying time for people everywhere, but the pantry staff is hard at work doing what they can for the community.
“We usually see about 60 families on average seeking assistance,” Skenandore said. “But the past few weeks we’ve been getting more than 90. We’ve pretty much had to revamp how we operate with this. We’re obviously still taking applications and we’re collecting the data so we can look back through this time and learn from it for the future.”
Safety precautions have been implemented by pantry staff to limit personal interactions with others. In addition to having people wait outside, volunteers working for the pantry are also wearing masks. “We’re not allowing people to congregate inside the building,” Skenandore said. “We have clients wait outside, we give them numbers, and we then have them pull up to the side of building and collect their food when their number is up.”
The Oneida Nation Emergency Food Pantry, located at N7372 Water Circle Place in Oneida, is open for new applicants seeking assistance and for food pick up each Tuesday and Thursday from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. “These are the best times available for help with my volunteers, myself, and one part-time worker. We currently have four volunteers working for us, and two of those are dedicated volunteers who come here and help out religiously. One of those has been coming here for as long as I’ve worked here, and she comes here Monday-Thursday and helps stock shelves, she helps clean, and she helps take care of our clients. The only way this place can operate is with our volunteers.”
For Oneida community members who are in need of assistance to keep food in their homes, there is an online application at Oneida Nation.org. However, stopping by the pantry to drop off application paperwork between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. may be the quickest option, with the turnaround time for receiving immediate food assistance being only a matter of minutes. Once accepted, that person or family is eligible for food assistance once per week. “When signing up please bring your Tribal I.D. because one Oneida member must be living in the household,” Skenandore said. “Also, if you have proof of income, or even past proof of income, or something stating that you’re laid-off please bring that as well.
“The process is very swift now,” Skenandore said. “From application process to receiving food is about ten minutes, and you will never be turned away. We don’t have any denials. All we ask is that once you’re accepted into the program, please only use the service when you really need it because we have a lot of families in need right now. Each person or family will receive three days’ worth of food supplies per person.”
While dairy products are seldomly received, the pantry does its part to try to ensure healthy food supplies. “You’ll receive items like soups, peanut butter, canned meat, and canned vegetables,” Skenandore said. “At the moment we also have pizzas, ground meat, and fresh produce. We’re trying to get as nutritious a package out there as possible for your families.”
Anybody planning on visiting the pantry is kindly asked to simply follow the safety guidelines that have become part of daily life as of late. “At this time it’s very critical that if you do visit us please try to abide by the guidelines, as health and safety is the number one concern right now.” Skenandore said.
Skenandore is also putting able-bodied people on notice. “If you are able-bodied, depending on how things progress, we may need your assistance because some of our volunteers are higher risk, so some of them may be putting their own personal safety at risk for the sake of the community.”
Community members wishing to help volunteer at the Oneida Emergency Food Pantry are asked to call the pantry at (920) 869-6165, or email Marlon Skenandore at [email protected].