Marshall Miles Interviews AJ Stack, Saint Thomas Food for Life

St. Thomas Welcomes the Rev. AJ Stack

The Rev. AJ Stack was called to St. Thomas in February, 2020. He is a native of southeastern Ohio, where, before ordination, he was a Licensed Social Worker, practicing in the fields of drug and alcohol recovery, adolescent mental and behavioral health, foster care, and employability and job retention skills development. As an Appalachian with a deep cultural connection to the land and community, one of the driving forces of AJ’s ministry is a desire to walk with churches as they discover God’s call to be contextually relevant and to build meaningful, Christlike relationships within their neighborhoods.

AJ is married to Steven Huang, an orchestral conductor and professor, and they have two sons, ages three and seven, whom they adopted through foster care. Their family loves to create music and food together, and they’re always eager to share with anyone who happens to drop by!


Pantry Mission Statement and Philosophy:

We provide fresh, nutritious food weekly for our neighbors in need, including vegetables grown in the on-site “Giving Garden”; and we offer information and referrals for a long-term improvement in their lives and health.  It is our core value that all who come to the pantry find a cheerful, encouraging atmosphere where they are treated with respect: we believe having a full stomach and sense of dignity is crucial to an individual’s ability to begin making positive changes in their lives.

COVID-19 and the Food of Life/Comida de Vida Pantry:

For eleven years, the Food of Life/Comida de Vida Pantry at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Amenia Union, has been feeding the hungry in our area. Now we are facing our greatest challenge since we opened during the Great Recession of 2009: due to effect of Covid19 on health and on jobs, the number of people seeking help is skyrocketing, with no end in sight.

Most of our guests are among the “working poor,” and Covid-19 is a catastrophe for this group. Even before the disease hit, Federal Reserve Board figures showed that a staggering 40% of the U.S. population is unable to meet a $400 emergency without falling into debt. Now, as millions are left unemployed, safety net systems such as ours will be under enormous pressure.

New Building for Operations and Distribution

  • Suggestion of Episcopal Charities Patrick Bergquist due to winter operational requirements
  • A new structure was designed by local architect and volunteer Leo Blackman
  • The structure was built and will be completed by early November by Ducillo Construction from Amenia, NY on the church property
  • All components of the pantry will be centrally located with storage capabilities of up to 20,000 pounds of food which the currently used Parish Hall could not accommodate
  • Building location allows for the safe, socially distanced drive-through method to continue while keeping volunteers warm and dry

-Building is 24×30 square feet and includes heating and cooling to keep both the food and volunteers at safe temperatures, an on demand generator for protection from power outages and room for safe social distancing for volunteers

The total cost of the structure is $121,725

Donations to cover the cost have been raised from the generosity of individuals and foundations/organizations including St. Thomas, Episcopal Charities, Northeast Dutchess Fund, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, Community Foundations of the Hudson Valley, The Foundation for Community Health

A very small dedication ceremony will take place on November 22.  A video of the ceremony and virtual tour of the pantry will be posted on St. Thomas’ website: 

For information on the food pantry,Contact AJ Stack, Pantry Executive director: 845-373-9161
Email: STTHOMASAMENIA@GMAIL.COMorDenis Freeman, Pantry administrator at: 845-373-9161Email:


We need Volunteers for our weekly food pantry!  If you can help please fill out the the form in the link below and we will contact you asap!  Thank you for helping us serve our community!  We are doing our best to keep the food pantry open through this crisis.VOLUNTEER


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