Olean — It was a busy Monday at the Olean Food Pantry. Food drives over the weekend resulted in the arrival of pallets loaded with cans and boxes of food.

All of it need to be weighted and sorted and volunteers were already at work before 2 On-Your-Side arrived at the pantry. For the volunteers, it’s rewarding work.

“It restores your faith in humanity and I can tell you when I leave here at the end of the day, I’m restored,” said D. B. Busan.

For another dedicated volunteer, the work at the Olean pantry means even more. Her name is Tiffany Claus. She is also a client.

“I need the food. I need to be able to supply for my children. I need to be able to keep going and just that alone is enough to get me to go and get the food,” said Claus.

Since 2012, the married mother of three teenaged boys has been coming to the pantry now and again to keep food in her house.

Claus lives in a fixer-upper in the hills near Cuba. Her husband is a truck driver delivering fuel, but the hours are not steady. She has multiple health issues including nerve damage in her left leg and right hand. For that, Claus does collect disability payments, but there’s not a lot of money to go around her household.

That’s why the pantry plays an important role in her life.

“It’s when money is extremely tight, that’s when we go to the pantry,” said Claus.

Hers is not an unusual story in the rural swaths of Western New York.

“People think that hunger is mainly in urban areas because you can see it. You can see people standing on the corner with signs or sometimes out in front of stores asking for money. In the rural areas, we don’t have a lot of places like that were people congregate,” says Jerry Hustak, operations manager at the Olean Food Pantry.

In fact, data suggests the hunger problem is a greater in rural areas. The Food Bank of Western New York tells 2 On Your Side 16% of people in the Olean area are food insecure. That means one-in-six struggles to put food on their table at least once every month.

The Food Bank of Western New York is also responsible for 70% of the food given away at the Olean Food Pantry. The rest is collected from local donations. And because this pantry each month allots up to six-days of food instead of the typical three-day supply, it draws clients from a 20-mile radius.

And Tiffany says helping others at the pantry is her way of paying back for all the help she and her family have received.

The annual Food 2 Families Food Drive to benefit the Food Bank of WNY will be held on Friday, November 30.

There are many ways you can help feed a family this holiday season:

  • Purchase a Little Brown Bag of Hope at any WNY Tops location now through 12/15. The Little Brown Bags of Hope come in three sizes Breakfast $5, Lunch $10 and Dinner $20 and contain nutritious non perishable food items to help feed families.
  • On Friday, November 30th stop by any of the participating Tops Market locations listed below and bring your non-perishable food donations. There will be trucks and volunteers at each location to accept food and cash donations.

Tops Market - 4777 Transit at French- Depew -- collection 5am-9pm

Tops Market - 7200 Niagara Falls Boulevard- Niagara Falls -- 7am-8pm

Tops Market - 3980 Maple Road- Amherst -- 7am-8pm

Tops Market - 6150 South Park Ave- Hamburg --7am-8pm

Tops Market - 2101 Elmwood Ave- Buffalo --7am-8pm

Tops Market - 5827 S. Transit Road - Lockport --7am-8pm

  • Make a secure on-line donation to support Food 2 Families Click Here.