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Despite the risk, volunteers helped keep local food pantries open By Ken Sturtz Volunteers unload pallets of emergency food last spring during the pandemic at a food pantry in Mexico (top photos). It was the spring of 2020 and the coronavirus was just beginning to shutter offices, schools and businesses when Kathy Melia decided she should be prepared for whatever happened next. Melia, who is the coordinator of the Redfield Community Food Pantry, immediately placed an order with the Food Bank of Central New York for a truckload of food to ensure the pantry was fully stocked. Then she surveyed her small group of volunteers to learn their intentions. “They were worried about making sure everyone had enough to eat. So, we never considered closing,” she said. Not a single person stopped volunteering even though many were well into their 70s. The pantry has remained open throughout the pandemic and continued providing food to those in need. The lone exception was a week they closed due to inclement weather, Melia said. The network of 15 food pantries in Oswego County that are affiliated with the Food Bank of Central New York form a crucial safety net for people struggling to