BUFFALO, N.Y. — During the pandemic, West Side Community Services started a temporary food pantry at Fargo avenue and Vermont street.
"We were seeing a huge need for food in the community," said West Side Community Services executive director Crystal Selk.
So the organization decided to turn the location into a permanent food pantry with the help of Friends of Night People.
To accomplish that, Friends of Night People is moving its pantry from Hudson and Wadsworth to the new location.
There's even some irony in the move.
"The pantry at our site near Symphony Circle was in this neighborhood six years ago," said Friends of Night People executive director Joseph Heary.
That's right, starting Monday at 11:30 a.m., the market-style, food pantry will be back open for business where it once stood.
The neighborhood is thrilled because those who normally struggle to find transportation won't have to walk over a mile to a different food pantry.
"Every week, we have someone come in and share that information with us and really, it's heartwarming," Selk said.
The soup kitchen at Hudson and Wadsworth will remain open.
Heary says the non-profit was serving up to 16,000 meals a month to those in need during the pandemic at their Hudson Street pantry and kitchen. That's now down to an average of 8,800 during the past three months.
"That has a lot to do with the availability of food resources and food assistance programs," Heary said.
Friends of Night People has also opened up more food pantries during the pandemic, including one in the black rock neighborhood.
Just like this new, bigger pantry on Vermont street, it's all contributing to a vital mission.
"We're really trying to help those neighborhoods nearby and establish how to make the food environment better," Heary said.
Friends of Night People is looking for four to six volunteers to help out at the food pantry.
It'll be open on Mondays from 11:30 to 2:30 p.m. and Wednesdays from noon to 4 p.m.