Cheyenne Bratton, agency services coordinator of the Regional Food Bank (along with her son), George
Elmer, and Daniel Vaughan-Cherubin, program coordinator for the Food Pantries of the Capital District, show off the new food pantry at Christ our Light Church in Loudonville.
Cheyenne Bratton, agency services coordinator of the Regional Food Bank (along with her son), George Elmer, and Daniel Vaughan-Cherubin, program coordinator for the Food Pantries of the Capital District, show off the new food pantry at Christ our Light Church in Loudonville.

The names and locations may have changed, but a food pantry to help those in need has always been a central mission at Christ our Light Church in Loudonville.

The original food pantry, the first of three, was established 35 years ago in the basement of St. Francis de Sales Church in Colonie by a group of women who had simple motives: to help individuals in need, Harry Nopper said. Nopper was responsible for managing the pantry for 20 years until handing the reins over to George Elmer. 

The pantry found its second home at the former Our Lady of Mercy Church in Colonie. Elmer and Nopper negotiated with Macedonia Baptist Church, the current occupant, and their pantry, with the full support of the new owners, would remain there for eight years. 

All the while, Nopper and Elmer brainstormed ways to bring the pantry to Christ our Light Church, which was formed by the merger of St. Francis de Sales and Our Lady of Mercy in 2009. After running into financial obstacles along the way and much negotiations, the food pantry at Christ our Light opened this past spring in what used to be two classrooms. 

The renovations took about a month and a half, Elmer said. Walls were knocked down to create one larger room and then painted and electrical lines were updated to effectively run the pantry’s refrigerators and freezers. Volunteers helped pack up cans and various supplies in boxes at Macedonia, which they would later unpack at the new location. Aside from renovations, the actual move only took one day. 

The new pantry’s location offers more room to move and store food. “We went from a dungeon to a palace,” said Elmer, referring to the original food pantry from decades ago.

For the clients, it’s about one mile from the old location and isn’t new to them, as they have gone to Christ Our Light in the past for special occasions such as coat drives, Christmas presents and school supplies. 

With all the challenges worked out, an open house last month showcased the parishioners’ and volunteers’ hard work. An official blessing of the pantry was conducted and representatives from the Regional Food Bank and Food Pantries of the Capital Region were present. 

With a team of over 50 volunteers, the new Christ our Light food pantry serves approximately 55 food insecure households 24 total meals per month. Over the past year, the pantry has distributed 47,184 meals, with an additional 484 holiday meals. 

To join Christ Our Light’s team of volunteers, contact the parish office at (518) 459-6635.