The new Geneseo-Atkinson Food Pantry building has been a community project, and pantry officials are eager to share the results with the public.

The new Geneseo-Atkinson Food Pantry building has been a community project, and pantry officials are eager to share the results with the public.

The food pantry will officially move from its old location on Russell Avenue to the newly built site at 550 Dilenbeck Drive on Saturday, April 21.

The food pantry will be closed for a week as staff and volunteers organize the building. Then, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 28, members of the community are invited to an open house to tour the new structure.

“We’ve heard so many people are excited to see the building because this has really been a community project,” said food pantry director Jolynn Kitterman.

In just over four months, the food pantry board was able to raise $1 million to add a 6,850-square foot addition to an existing gas station structure converting the site into the new food pantry.

“The food pantry has been in Geneseo for quite a few years. It has a good reputation in the community, and the community always seems to rally around a good cause,” said Fr. Michael Pakula, president of the Geneseo-Atkinson Food Pantry Board.

The board relied on long-time construction experts Gene Stees and Chuck Kibler to oversee work on the project.

“Everything went very smoothly,” said Stees, who added cooperation from area contractors was “just phenomenal” with the majority offering their work as an in-kind donation or for reduced prices.

“We’ve been so humbled by the generosity from the community,” said Kitterman.

For nearly 30 years, the food pantry has made its home in a multi-story building on Russell Avenue.

The building was constructed in the early 1900s. In the mid-1920s, it was purchased by St. Malachy Church and used as a convent for nuns before becoming a Christian Education Center for the church.

In 1989, it became home to the Geneseo Food Pantry.

“We use every nook and cranny, from the attic to the basement,” said Kitterman. Space had become so limited at the old site staff and volunteers were “literally tripping over things,” she said.

The new building was constructed with future growth in mind.

“We’ve never had so much space,” said Kitterman.

“It might be bigger than some people thought, but we were building it with the future in mind,” said Pakula.

The new building includes a devoted space for clothing as well as space for food donations, including freezer and refrigerator cases for cold storage.

At the old food pantry, clothing was available on the second floor, which made it inaccessible for handicapped clients.

“Having the clothing area on one level is huge,” said Kitterman. The new food pantry has washers and dryers on site to allow volunteers to launder donations, a capability they never had before.

“The stairs in the original building weren’t the friendliest. Having everything on one level will help clients, especially those who aren’t as physically healthy as others. It will also make things easier for staff and volunteers who no longer have to carry items upstairs. It’s good all-around,” said Pakula.

The new Geneseo-Atkinson Food Pantry also includes storage space, a meeting room, a waiting room and private office space for staff to meet one-on-one with clients.

The Geneseo-Atkinson Food Pantry serves qualifying residents in the Geneseo and Atkinson ZIP codes.

“Our clients are excited and have all ben anxiously waiting to see the building,” said Kitterman.

She hopes members of the community will also enjoy touring the new location.

“We hope it opens their eyes to all the services we offer,” she said.

The Geneseo Ministerial Association owns the previous food pantry building, and Pakula said the GMA plans to sell the building.

“We have some who say the building might be valuable to another group, while others say it might be the land that someone wants. We figure we’ll let that decision be made by the future buyer,” he said.

“Our intention is to try and sell the property over the summer so we’re not paying maintenance and utilities on two facilities,” he said.