Pin It
Nancy Myers

After 16 years as the director of the Lansing Food Pantry, Nancy Myers is preparing to turn over her apron to someone new.  Myers has headed the  Food pantry since 2002, when she took over from Mary Searles, and hasn't missed a single day in all that time.  She says she hopes to find two people to take over -- one to fill each shoe -- so she can retire from the position within the next six months. 

"I have suggested that it no longer be just one person in charge," she says. "I think it should be a coordinator and a second-in-command.  I came here once and sat with a mask on because I thought I had a cold or flu.  It's not right -- I should have stayed home.  Now Judy Scott has keys so if I can't come she can step in."

The Lansing Food pantry serves about 100 families per month, which translates to feeding over 300 people.  It is open on the fourth Monday of each month from 1pm to 3pm, for Lansing town and school district residents only.  Area residents in and outside of Lansing may also avail themselves of the Mobile Food Pantry from 10 to 11am on the second Monday of each month.

Myers took over the food panty reins from Mary Searles in 2002.  She oversaw a move from the United Methodist Church to its current home in the RINK/the FIELD, which affords the food pantry more space that is dedicated to its use.  When located at the church everything had to be moved into place on food pantry days, then removed again to make room for other church functions.  The new home is more spacious, and can remain set up so that volunteers can concentrate on the key mission of stocking and distributing food and other items.

Myers has been recognized many times for her work with the Food Pantry, including last year with the James J. Byrnes Award for Excellence.  But the first week of last month was especially gratifying, when she was awarded the Robert Uplinger Award for distinguished service by the Lansing Lions Club.  The award came with a $1,000 check, which she donated to the Lansing Food Pantry.  The next night she was presented with the Betty Morrow Founders Award for Volunteer of the Year by Area Congregations Together (A. C. T.) at their annual meeting. 

Food Pantry - Nancy Myers Awards

Being the Director involves attracting and managing 40-plus volunteers, raising money, and, of course, ordering and distributing the food.  Food is purchased from the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, which services many local food pantries.  Myers orders the food online, and it is delivered.  Additional items are purchased by the Lansing Food Pantry or are donated.  Clients now find fresh lettuce, carrots, potatoes, milk, eggs, bread, butter, and a variety of meats when they come to get food and supplies.

Myers is on the advisory board for the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, the Mobile Food Pantry advisory board, Chairs the 17-food pantry Coalition for Tompkins County, and is the Director of the Lansing Food Pantry.  Volunteers come in for specific tasks during the month, as well as on the food pantry days.  She says that recruiting volunteers has never been a problem.

"That's a nice thing -- people just hear about it, or people who volunteer mention it and talk about what they're doing, and more people come.  Sally and Ken Walker brought one of their grandchildren.  Now I know that he's going to keep coming.  Julie Eisenhut came with her mom one day, and now she's coming.  Norm and Pat Wheeler have been with me since 2004.  Diane and Paul Southard were with me when I first started with Mary Searles in 2002.  I've never had any trouble looking for volunteers.  Never."

Sometimes volunteers come from unexpected places, like Dan Gee, who literally came to the Food pantry from on high, which, as it turns out, is the health club on the balcony above the food pantry.

"I used to put the tables out by myself," Myers recalls. "That particular morning I must not have had my Cheerios!  I fell into the net (that surrounds the indoor soccer field across the hall from the Food Pantry).  My heel got stuck in the netting.  I heard this voice saying 'Ma'am, can I help you?'  It was Dan Gee, who was on the balcony exercising.  I couldn't move, but he came down and unhinged my foot, and guess what?  He's been volunteering at the pantry ever since."

From that day on Gee set up the tables for Myers each month.  When he passed away, his obituary directed mourners to donate to the food pantry, and she continues to honor his memory with a 'baking table' he requested, where clients pick up baking supplies like flour, sugar, chocolate chips, vegetable oil, shortening.

Myers says one of her favorite parts of running the Food Pantry is helping local children.  She recalls volunteering to occupy one mother's children while she picked out school supplies to surprise them with.  But when the family was leaving a boy ran back to tell her what it meant to him.

"The young man took the supplies out to the car and hugged me in front of everybody, and said, 'Thank you for making my school year," she says.  "Now I can go to school like everybody else.' "

Myers says that when she took over the leadership of the Food Pantry outgoing Director Mary Searles showed her the ropes.  She plans to do the same for the next Director, whoever that turns out to be. 

"This doesn't mean I'm never coming in these doors again," she says. "If you need anything I would certainly help you, make suggestions, or say what I may have missed telling them, about ordering the food or that sort of thing."

Pin It