U.S. Sen. Tom Carper was in Milton Nov. 3 to check out Milton Community Food Pantry’s new facility on Union Street Extended.
The pantry received $126,000 in federal funds through the American Rescue Plan Act, which the pantry board plans to use to upgrade its new facility and purchase food. The pantry is not planning to begin distributions at the new facility until spring 2023. Conditions of the pantry’s approval by Sussex County Planning & Zoning still must be met, including upgrades to the circular driveway and adding wayfinding signs. The one-acre property includes a 1,000-square-foot home that will be used for office space and storage, and plans include demolishing existing secondary structures and building a pole barn, which will include freezer space and additional storage.
The pantry has been looking for its own space for three years. For much of its existence, the pantry distributed food from Goshen Hall on Federal Street, but the site did not offer permanent storage space and the building was put up for sale by Goshen United Methodist Church.
The pantry relocated its operations to the new Water’s Edge church on Route 16, and while distributions will still be done there for the foreseeable future, the pantry lost its storage space when the church began renovations. The pantry is an all-volunteer organization and is actively looking for volunteers to pick up donated food and to serve on the board of directors.
“This is inspiring,” Carper said of the pantry’s new building. “Especially as we fell into the pandemic two years ago, a lot of Americans lost their jobs, lost their ability to earn money to provide food. Here in Sussex County, you have people of faith living their faith and volunteering, making sure people who don’t have money to feed their families get some help. It’s a community responsibility. I think it is a moral responsibility. And the people here have stood up and met that moral responsibility.”