Suburban hunger: It's a reality in Williamsville

Posted at 2:26 PM, Sep 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-27 18:43:00-04

The problem of suburban hunger is such a concern, that the Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst (UUCA) is opening a free, open-air food pantry at 6320 Main Street, Williamsville on Sunday September 30, 2018.

Organizers told 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly that a big consideration in opening the “Amherst Little Free Food Pantry” was minimizing the “shame-factor” for those who needed to use it.

The food pantry is located outside of the church’s front portico, in a large cabinet near the front entrance. 

Stocked with non-perishable food items and other household goods (such as baby supplies and toiletries), the Amherst Little Free Food Pantry will be accessible to anyone 24-7, without having to sign-up or fill out an application

According to the USDA, 15.7% of American households with children were “food insecure” in 2017. 

Food insecurity means a family does not have the ability, or the access, to a sufficient and reliable quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

Sadly, of the estimated 40 million people who struggle with hunger in the U.S., many can be living in suburban communities, like Amherst and Williamsville.

Maria Ceraulo began pushing for the pantry’s creation two years ago after seeing how it was being done in other parts of the country.  It is based on the idea of Little Free Libraries - where people can borrow and leave books in public spots.

UUCA embraced the idea for the food pantry with assistance from Congregation Havurah and a Riefler Grant from the Network of Religious Communities in Buffalo .

It relies on honesty as needy individuals are free to come and take supplies without question anytime during the day or night.

Why Williamsville? 

Ceraulo said many people have expressed surprise that the Amherst/Williamsville area would need a food pantry.  She explained that Amherst has a large student and senior population - both groups which are at high-risk for being hungry.

Ceraulo said she is hoping that people will bring donations to the pantry to help keep it fully stocked.

Grand opening of the Amherst Little Free Food Pantry is Sunday at 11:30 a.m.  The community is invited to attend and bring a non-perishable item for donation.

The following is a press release issued by the church:




Want to do something about hunger in your community?


The Amherst Little Free Pantry located outside on the front entrance portico of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst, (6320 Main Street, Williamsville, NY, 14221) is always open (opening 9/30) with no questions asked, no forms to fill out and no qualifications. We need non-perishable items (NO GLASS) including:


Lunch Box Items (granola/protein bars, snack packs, juice boxes, plant milk singles)

Baby Items: Diapers (all sizes), Food (NO GLASS) Wipes and Formula

Toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste, bar soap, shampoo, deodorant, feminine

hygiene products)

Toilet Paper

Cleaning Supplies (Dish Soap, Laundry Soap, Surface Cleaners)


Peanut Butter and Jelly (NO GLASS)

Canned Tuna and Chicken

Canned Soups, Stews, and Chili

Canned Ravioli and Pasta

Canned Fruit

Canned Vegetables

Beans, Canned or Dried

Boxed Meals (i.e. Mac and Cheese, Taco Kits, etc)

Pasta, Rice, Lentils, Quinoa and Grains

Spaghetti Sauce (NO GLASS)

Please leave items directly in the Pantry (enter from front parking lot) after 9/30 if space permits or in the designated cabinets in the first coat closet (enter from back parking lot) during normal office hours, Tuesday through Friday, 9 am to 2 pm.


Volunteers stock the Pantry and are always needed. We welcome food drives at churches, schools, girls/boys scouts, sporting events etc.

Please like us on Facebook: amherst little free pantry


****SAVE THE DATE****Sunday, September 30, 2018—BRING A DONATION!!!

@ 11:30 am—The Grand Opening of the Amherst Little Free Pantry located on the front entrance portico of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst. All are invited to stay for cake.


The Amherst Little Free Pantry is a social justice project of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Amherst with assistance from Congregation Havurah. It is made possible by a Riefler Fund Grant from the Network of Religious Communities.


For more info, please contact Maria at amherstlittlefreepantry@uuamherst.org.



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