Where we started and where we are today
Milly Bloomquist was the forename and visionary behind Milly’s Pantry. After spending years in public health and as a school nurse and Board member for the PYSCD she recognized the effects of poverty and the hunger needs of Yates County children.
Milly’s Pantry, Inc. was established in 2008 as a NYS non-profit 501(c)(3) whose mission is to support Yates County children by addressing issues of food insecurity and academic readiness. And to address childhood poverty by empowering Yates County children and their families through education, training, and mentoring. Original program focus started with the Weekend Back Pack Program and with soon discovering a secondary focus in 2010 with the School Supplies Program.
In 2008, with a generous $248,000 grant from the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, Milly’s Pantry purchased and renovated the Odd Fellows building on Main Street in Penn Yan, and opened its retail market and rental spaces, now known as The Pinwheel Market & Café, to help generate revenue from activities to help sustain programming needs. This fund-raising social enterprise, has become a comfortable community space offering local artists, craftspeople, and food vendors an opportunity to sell their merchandise while supporting children with a percentage of retail sales. A commercial kitchen and ballroom on the upper floors provide revenue through private rentals, office space, private parties, and health and wellness classes.
While we aspire to complete self-sufficiency, the assistance of granting agencies remain essential to our ability to serve vulnerable children in Yates County.
Milly’s Pantry is the only organization in Yates County that harnesses the power of community to meet the basic needs of our children through our the Weekend Back Pack Program, funded in part by the Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation, providing supplemental food to over 500 Yates County children each week, the School Supplies Program, funded in part by the Nord Foundation, providing teacher-requested classroom supplies to over 800 local students, and the Summer Food Program, funded largely through the New York State Department of Education, providing daily lunches for approximately 500 recreation program and summer school participants. In the ten years that Milly’s Pantry has existed, the organization has developed myriad relationships within the community — with public and private schools, churches, service organizations, year-round and summer residents, and visitors to the area.
Milly’s Pantry programs and its social enterprise are made possible by a team of close to 100 dedicated volunteers. Its growth and stability as a not-for-profit have increased dramatically over the last few years, demonstrated by the full and part-time hire of an Executive Assistant and Weekend Back Pack Program Director, Weekend Back Pack Coordinator, School Supplies Director and a Pinwheel Market Manager. All of which help to manage and maintain Milly’s Pantry activities in administration and programming.