RIPLEY - The Ripley Community Council Food Pantry may have found a permanent home in the school building.
Ripley Central School Board of Education members voted Thursday, May 8 to authorize school Superintendent Dr. Lauren Ormsby to move ahead with a plan to allow the food pantry to occupy the former district offices just inside the state street entrance.
If a contract for leasing the space can be reached, the food pantry will be located in what was the office of former Superintendent Karen Krause, as well as that of the district clerk. The offices, which are currently being vacated by the school, are located in the same section of the building that the town of Ripley now leases for its offices.
Food pantry coordinator Ruth "Candy" Kelly attended the school board meeting to seek the board's approval. She said the pantry has been considering moving into the old town building, but that solution would not be permanent since the building has several structural issues.
"We have an industrial freezer, six feet long, as well as the other freezer," Kelly said. "No one can say how long we could use the town building. It would be so much nicer to be here than to be there and then have to move again."
Ormsby said Kelly met with her to ask if there was any space available for the pantry. At the same time, the school had begun moving out of the old district offices, because they are located past the locked security doors, which separate the school from the town offices. It seemed a perfect match, she said.
Board President Robert Bentley said the district would have to draw up a contract before the arrangement could be complete. However, he recommended that the contract be retro-active so that the pantry could begin to move as quickly as possible.
Kelly said the pantry serves as many as 100 families each year. Right now, an average of 30 families benefit from the pantry, but that rises to more than 50 near the holidays.
The pantry is currently open Tuesdays and Saturdays. Kelly said However, it could possibly shift the Tuesday time to Wednesday because the town offices are closed that day. In this way the pantry's operation would not conflict with town business or parking.
In a related matter, Ormsby noted that the security doors between the school and the town offices are completely installed and functional, including the double doors in the school cafeteria. The doors cannot be opened from the town side, unless one has an authorized card key. The doors can be opened from the school side in case of an emergency, however an alarm will sound when any door is opened in an unauthorized manner.
Ormsby also noted that Ripley school uniform clothing, including ball caps, sweats jersey and belts are on sale in the school.