ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — After two break-ins at the start of the holiday season, a local food pantry has worked to rebuild to support those in need. 

The Community Food Cupboard of Rochester on Nester Street has more donations and volunteers than ever before, made possible with help that has poured in from the community.

In the last few years, staff and volunteers at The Community Food Cupboard have risen above several challenges – not only the COVID pandemic, but a significant fire in 2020, and two thefts in October.

Leaders say generosity from community members and many nonprofits has helped to restore what was lost. 

Andrew Williams of Irondequoit has volunteered at The Community Food Cupboard for about a month after he learned of not one, but two break-ins taking place there as well as a need for donations, but a greater need for more help on hand.

“The donations that come in every single day that I’m here are just amazing. We’ve had corporate donations that just come in by the car full,” said Williams.

On two separate occasions in late October, administrator Maribeth Weed says the same suspect broke into the pantry, taking thousands of dollars worth of donated products and other equipment.

That suspect has since been charged. However, with only a few weeks until Thanksgiving, Weed says to some degree of surprise, help came in… quickly.

“I guess I didn’t expect it. You would think I would expect it, but I didn’t. And it was quite a blow for the first couple of weeks. But, we all rallied and the community has embraced us. I can’t even say enough,” said Weed.

Weed adds corporate organizations, nonprofits, and neighbors have all stepped up at a time when demand is significant, arguably more than ever, to feed those in need.

“We have been through a fire, COVID and then of course, two thefts. It is a group effort. It is not me. I get down and somebody helps me up. It’s a group effort. I always say out of every bad thing, something good comes,” said Weed.

Meanwhile, Williams is one of the newer volunteers and part of a bigger team, which is helping to make the cupboard’s most successful season yet.

“These shelves are supposed to be filled with emergency bags. Today, they are. But, tomorrow morning, you’ll come in and half of these bags will be gone. The need is tremendous,” said Williams, “I wanted to connect with people in need and this is a direct connection.”

Compared to last year at this time, Weed says the number of people the cupboard is feeding on a regular basis has doubled. Donations are still encouraged year-round.

Starting next month, The Community Food Cupboard will extend its hours to meet the demand.

The cupboard will be open Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.