December 15, 2021

MVP Health Care, Catholic Charities Partner for Healthier Food Pantries

Rensselaer, NY - One of the region’s largest health care providers has given $10,000 to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany to help food pantries in Rensselaer County provide fresh, healthier options, including foods that are gluten-free, low sugar or meet other nutritional requirements. 

The donation is part of MVP Health Care’s commitment to support healthy options for people living in the region, regardless of income level. 

“At MVP Health Care, investing in the health and well-being of our communities is at the center of all that we do,” said MVP Health Care’s Vice President of Community Engagement, Ellen Sax. ”Collaborating with innovative partners like Catholic Charities we will be able to achieve our vision of creating heathier communities by ensuring access to healthy and nutritious foods.” 

Catholic Charities said the $10,000 will go long way in addressing an important community need at its two Rensselaer County food pantries – The Roarke Center in Troy and CoNSERNS-U in Rensselaer. 

"People come to us with lactose intolerance, diabetes or food allergies, and our mission is to help them whatever their dietary needs. This grant will help us do that,” said Jenn Hyde, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Tri-County Services. “Gluten-free, allergen-free, low-sugar and other specialty food items can be hard to find and it often takes additional resources and staff time to acquire the appropriate supplies.”  

The Roarke Center, on 4th Street in Troy, hosts a food pantry, a re-entry program and provides people with emergency financial assistance with such items as rent and utility payments. The outreach center is also home to “Creative Hearts,” a program that offers creative arts, creative writing, digital photography, sewing and weaving courses.  

In addition to a food pantry, CoNSERNS-U provides outreach and support services, including holiday gift and food distributions, advocacy, clothing, back-to-school drives, emergency financial and utility assistance, referral services and casework. CoNSERNS-U is on Herrick St. in Rensselaer and serves people in the City of Rensselaer and throughout rural Rensselaer County. 


As inflation drives up the cost of food and the holidays approach, Catholic Charities is serving more people at both locations. In July, Catholic Charities served 277 families in its Rensselaer County pantries. By October, pantry traffic had risen 26%, to 350 families.  

“We want to help people to live healthy, stable lives and that starts with food,” said Vincent W. Colonno, CEO of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany. “Right now, more people need our help. Demand has increased for all food items, including those that meet specific nutritional needs. With this funding from MVP Health Care, we'll be better able to address those needs and make people feel welcome, comfortable and safe when coming to our pantries.”  

Those who need services can contact Catholic Charities at 518-453-6650.