ALLEGHENY COUNTY (KDKA) — Eight thousand pounds of food and paper products are under lock and key in Baldwin, according to the coordinator of the Baldwin Borough Food Pantry.

Gail Mikush told KDKA’s Meghan Schiller that leaders from Baldwin EMS asked her to turn over her keys late last week, citing coronavirus concerns.

Mikush says she is no longer allowed to run the pantry out of the back of the Baldwin EMS building after nearly 30 years of serving the community.

She said she received a call last Thursday “telling me that they were no longer going to let us in the building and that we had to move everything.”

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

She said her pantry distributes to 75 Baldwin families each month, but now she’s can’t work out of the building.

A sign posted on the door reads: “Effective Immediately per Chief Plunkett: This facility is currently closed. Only authorized EMS Personnel Permitted.”

“We have 75 families and about 15-20 that we deliver to. And they’re the people that I’m most concerned with because we’re the only food pantry in the area that delivers,” said Mikush.

KDKA reached out to Baldwin EMS Chief Todd Plunkett to see if there’s a way to work things out. Or if there is a way for the pantry’s volunteers to distance themselves from the first responders, but still provide food to the community.

Despite multiple calls, messages and an email, KDKA’s Meghan Schiller did not hear back from Chief Plunkett by news time.

“I haven’t been sleeping over the whole thing and it’s really awful,” said Mikush. “I thought we’d be doing this probably another 20 years.”

More information on the Coronavirus pandemic:

Mikush said the superintendent of Baldwin-Whitehall School District offered up Paynter Elementary School until the school’s slated demolition begins.

Mikush said she’s grateful for the option, but the school is not centrally located in the borough or a long-term solution.

She tells KDKA she will continue to make calls in search of a 1,000-square-foot-facility that the pantry can soon call home.

Meghan Schiller