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'Devastated': Complaints force closure of pop-up food pantry in Windsor Twp.

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

A food pantry located off the side of a road in Windsor Township is being forced to shut down because of safety complaints, even though township officials initially had shown support for the project.

Red Lion Little Free Food Pantry, which had opened in March as a response to an increased demand for food during the COVID-19 pandemic, will close  July 3 after the York Area Regional Police Department received complaints from residents, according to founder Jerry Pilachowski.

Little Free Food Pantry founder Jerry Pilachowski walks with Angela Long of Craley and her grandson Jax, 3, after their visit to the pantry on Cape Horn Road in Windsor Township Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Due to complaints about traffic along the road, the stand will be closing. Bill Kalina photo

The primary gripe among those who complained was that the food pantry's location caused safety and traffic concerns, said Kipp Allison, the zoning officer for Windsor Township.

The location of the food pantry, at 3265 Cape Horn Road, is along a main roadway and people often cross the street when stopping by — though Pilachowski said there haven't been any issues since the food pantry opened.

"I'm devastated," Pilachowski said, of hearing the news he would have to close his food pantry. "Grocery prices have gone up, and people can't eat. It just hurt me (closing) because I've had single moms here crying because they can't get food."

Since the food pantry's start, more than $20,000 has gone into buying food and other essentials for hungry residents. Roughly 60 to 80 residents each day use the pantry's services, Pilachowski said.

Little Free Food Pantry volunteer Kai Gibson Wright, 10, stores canned goods in the shipping container that houses the pantry on Cape Horn Road in Windsor Township Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Due to complaints about traffic along the road, the stand will be closing. Bill Kalina photo

Allison said when Pilachowski first presented the idea, he had already begun setting up the pantry site. Windsor Township, seeing the need for a food pantry in the community,  supported Pilachowski and provided him with traffic cones near his tent.

"The township was trying to cooperate with him and support his idea because it was something that was needed," Allison said. "From the get-go, we always discussed with Jerry that when the need was over that there would be an end date."

In addition to complaints filed to York Area Regional Police, Allison said several residents had called to the township with safety concerns. It wasn't until police Chief Tim Damon contacted township officials that Pilachowski was asked to choose an end date for his food pantry.

"(Pilachowski) had always known the location was not permissible and that it was something that would have to end," Allison said. "People had been using the pantry and he's provided a niche to people in need, so we were trying to be supportive."

Despite the unavoidable closure of the Red Lion Little Free Food Pantry, Pilachowski said he's looking into new locations to set up the pantry.

Specifically, he said the location needs to be in a commercial zone and allow for cargo containers.

"People are still hurting," Pilachowski said. "We're trying to do something right and help people."

Damon did not return calls Tuesday seeking comment.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.