Hunger Is Not a Disease

Caring Hands

Kingston, New York is a rapidly gentrifying and trendy  trendy little town in New York State.   Almost every day I see new neighbors in this community.  They’ve found just the perfect weekend apartment and are ecstatically, euphorically furnishing it with just the perfect finds.  In short, they are in love with Kingston!

In their giddiness, they have may not have  yet noticed the Caring Hands Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen.  Or maybe they have.  Maybe they see that one of the most important  things about Kingston is that the residents care for one another.  This attitude helps make Kingston what it is – a community we all want to be part of.

2017 is turning out to be  a tough year for food pantries in general and Caring Hands Food Pantry in Kingston, New York in particular.  But, Caring Hands isn’t just a food pantry.  It’s a soup kitchen, and a warming center with a recovery and twelve-step program.  As if that’s not enough, they’ve got  a free legal clinic, too.

Volunteers at Caring Hands, under the direction of the Rev. Darlene L. Kelley at the Clinton Avenue Methodist Church, work hard as they put their beliefs into action daily.  Almost 600 meals are served weekly in the soup kitchen.  Over 3,000 households   receive groceries monthly.

Children, the elderly, families, veterans, and the ill are all welcome at Caring Hands.  The goal is to help people in need help themselves.  The message of God’s transforming love is spread throughout the community from the Clinton Avenue Methodist Church as it ripples out in waves.

It is easy for you to be a part of this message.  You don’t have to move to Kingston.  You don’t have to attend the church there.  You don’t even have to know anyone in the area.  All you need to do is give a little … or a lot … of whatever you can share.

  1.  Sending a check always helps.  Caring Hands always needs money.
  2.  Sending a gift certificate always helps, too.  Did someone give  you  a gift certificate that  that you’ll probably never use?  Well, now is a good time to use it.  Send it on over.
  3. Extra time is extremely valuable.  If you live in the area, you can be a part of this  miracle when you volunteer.  Your gift of presence will be greatly appreciated.
  4. Hold a food drive.  Gifts of food are always, always needed.  If you don’t live in the area, hold a food drive anyway and donate the cans and boxes of food to a food pantry in your area.
  5. Call an elected representative  and lobby for the poor and hungry in your area.  Persuade this elected official to be generous with funds for those around us who do not have everything they need to live a healthy life.
  6. Your prayers and kind thoughts are always welcome.  Those at Caring Hands as well as at other food pantries throughout our country are working hard to bring food and love to a broken community.  They need your support.

Caring Hands has a mailing address to send your check and/or  gift certificates:  CARING HANDS

c/o THE CLINTON AVENUE UMC

P. O. Box 1099

Kingston, New York 12402.

Thank you for reading this blog post.  Hopefully you’ll share it with your favorite social media outlet.

With this blog posted article comes an apology for not having posted often enough in the past months.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t care or that I’m no longer interested in hunger.  To the contrary.  I’m deeply involved in bringing my next book to my publisher.  And, it’s about hunger in America.

Thurman Greco

Top 3 Myths about Food Pantries

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Much that is written, said, and believed about food pantries is simply not true.  Maybe the problems themselves are somehow created by those of us who work at the food pantries.  I admit it.  I encounter people all the time who believe things about pantries that are simply untrue.  I’ve been listening to these people for 10 years.

And, somehow, I’ve been unable to dispel these fallacies.  I listen.  I talk to the people.  I certainly have the facts.  I have the statistics.  I have the stories.  Somehow, they just don’t seem to hear the real story.

So, now, with this post, I’m hoping to debunk 3 myths anyway.

FOOD PANTRIES FEED A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO DON’T NEED THE FOOD.  

I don’t know how this rumor got started.  In the last few years many, many more people have been using food pantries than in times past.  Many pantries have long waiting lines for the hungry.  No one goes to a food pantry unnecessarily.  The waits are too long, the selection is often minimal.

THANKSGIVING IS THE BEST TIME TO DONATE FOOD TO A FOOD PANTRY BECAUSE PEOPLE GO TO FOOD PANTRIES DURING THE HOLIDAYS MORE THAN ANY OTHER TIME OF YEAR. 

Food pantries need your donations of food/expertise/time/money all year long.  People don’t just get hungry in November.

Frankly, the neediest time of the year for pantries/soup kitchens/shelters is August.  Summers are pretty lean but August is severe.  Pantries need your canned/baked goods, shelf staples all year long.  If you have a garden which is producing too many tomatoes please share this fresh produce with your area pantry.  If you suddenly find yourself cleaning out your kitchen, please bring those cans and boxes you’ll never use to the pantry.

September is a good time to donate peanut butter, jelly, and other school lunch snacks to your neighborhood pantry.

ONLY PEOPLE WHO QUALIFY FOR SNAP CAN GO TO A FOOD PANTRY.

I don’t know how this rumor got started either.  Often a food pantry is a supplement to a household’s SNAP budget.  But there are many, many people shopping at food pantries who never make it to the SNAP office.  Some food pantries get visits from people wanting to sign them up for SNAP.

Actually, it would be wonderful if more people would get both SNAP benefits and food pantry food.  This is true for the elderly especially.  Often, people are afraid of going to the SNAP office.  They’re afraid they won’t be able to find it.  They are afraid they may not be able to answer the questions.  In rural areas, the fear is that it will take too much gas.

THANKS FOR READING THIS POST!  

Please refer this article to your preferred social media network.

“I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore” is coming soon!  Hopefully, when this book is published, I’ll have more time to post articles on this blog.

Cover art for this book was contributed by Michele Garner.

 

I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore

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This  is  the story of hunger in America as only the hungry can tell it.

It began as an outreach activity at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in Woodstock, New York.  My job was to pass the pantry key from one congregation to the next each month.  Total monthly time commitment:  two hours.  By the time I moved on to another food pantry eight years later, it had become a calling.

From the very first day, I felt compelled to write down things  people said to me in the pantry.  Trouble is, I’m not a writer and never have been.

So, the prayers manifested themselves.  It was all I could do to just keep up with the words.

Obviously, I needed supervision, guidance, mentoring.  As I lived this story and began to write it under the direction of Lillie Dale Cox Thurman and Uralee Thurman Lawrence, the story and the people strengthened me.  I found that I wanted things for these people.  Mostly, what I wanted for these hungry people was the same thing they wanted.  What I wanted, (and what they wanted) really, wasn’t much:

I wanted the hungry to sleep with full stomachs at night.

I wanted them to wake up in a dry space in the morning.

I wanted them to have healthcare.

And I wanted them to have jobs which paid the rent, bought food, and covered their transportation needs.

I wanted them to be a part of the community where they lived.

Finally, I wanted their children to be well educated.

My hope is that you will see this book as a glimpse of what I see…a collection of prayers offered as prize crystals or gems to be shared with the universe.

This book is being edited now.  I hope to have it finished by the end of the year!

Please send kind thoughts and support on this project!

Cover art by Michele Garner.  Thank you Michele.  This cover is perfect!

Thank you for reading this blog post.

Please share this article with you preferred social media network.

Thanks,

Thurman Greco

Woodstock, NY

“A Healer’s Handbook” by Thurman Greco is now available on Amazon or at http://www.thurmangreco.com

The Hunger Book is on the Editor’s Desk!

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After what seems like eons, this hunger book is finally on the editor’s desk.

This book is long, complicated, and full of information focusing on a subject  people know very little about – unless they live and/or work in it.  Recently, on the advice of my editor, the book has been divided into three separate books.

Because of these changes, the hunger book will be easier to read and use.

With three volumes, we now have three titles:

“I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore”

“The Unworthy Hungry”

“Hungry in America”

Of course, as a book progresses, things change and then they change again.  So, whether it’ll have two sections or three, it’s true that the one volume was way too large.

I’m extremely excited about this project!  Our goal for this project is to send the first volume to the publisher by mid-September.

Thank you for reading this blog.  Please refer this article to your favorite social media network.

“A Healer’s Handbook” is now available!  You can purchase it through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and my website:  http://www.thurmangreco.com.

Thanks!

Thurman Greco

Another Year Has Begun Again

Another year has begun again.  (And, far too quickly, too.)

As I begin another year fighting hunger, God, my time with the pantry is in your hands.

Give me patience again, O God.  And let me remember that it’s my job to offer the best, most delicious, nutritious food I can find for the hungry.

It is not my job to end hunger.  Let me remember, God, that you have your own timetable.

As a year begins give me  wisdom and grace to serve the hungry with respect and honor…which they deserve.  Give me energy and strength to trust that those who have enough will continue to give so we will have the money to continue to feed the hungry as long as we need to.

Donations to the food bank have worked beautifully up to now, God.  Give me the strength to trust the system to work in the new year too.  Let me trust in the miracles of this system.

And, God, thank you for giving me comfort when I grow discouraged.  Forgive me for not being stronger.

Thank you for giving the money, volunteers, and resources the pantry needs to continue to feed the ever increasing number of people whose paychecks are not going up but their gasoline, rent, and food costs are rising.

Thank you for the miracles you give us daily.

I say these things in your name and with gratitude from the bottom of my heart, O God.

Amen

Thank you for reading this blog post!

Please refer this prayer to your favorite social media network.

This prayer is one of a series of entries I’m writing to go in a memoir about hunger.  It will be entitled “I Don’t Hang Out In Churches  Anymore – the story of hunger as told through prayer”.

Thurman Greco

The Unworthy Hungry

Posts have been pretty sparse on this blog  these past few months.  I’m not neglecting the blog though.  Actually, I’m putting quite a bit of energy into the subject because I’m moving right along on the book on hunger:  “Unworthy Hungry”.

Books simply take many, many more hours than we ever dream they will.  For months, I’ve spent most of my days and evenings focused on the book.

I really learned my lesson on “A Healer’s Handbook”.  That book has been out several weeks.  It’s available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  The paper version is available at thurmangreco.com.  And…it’s still in a pre publishing stage.  If you get a book now, you’ll receive one of the first copies  of this book.

Hundreds, no, thousands of person hours go into a book which gets chosen in about a minute and a half in a book store.

That being said, I’m really focused on having a copy of “Unworthy Hungry” available for you in less than a year.

This book is fairly complicated…because hunger is not a simple subject.  Right now, it looks as though it’s going to be available in two different books with two different titles.  I’m still searching for a title for the second book which is emerging.  Right now, it’s looking like it’s going to be called “Hungry and the Heart”.

Meanwhile, if I had to give this project a score, I’d say it’s about 87% finished!

Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading this blog post.

Please share this article with your preferred social media outlet.

If you want to check out “A Healer’s Handbook”, the e-book is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  The paper book can be found at thurmangreco.com.

Thanks for your support!

To those who have already purchased copies of “A Healer’s Handbook”, I offer thanks and feedback is that you’re enjoying it.

Thurman Greco

 

A Holiday Gone Wrong

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“When we talk cooking and eating, we are talking love, since the entire history of how a family loves – when and how they learned to love – can be told in most kitchens.” – Marion Roach Smith

The first year a person uses a food pantry for primary shopping, Christmas is a holiday gone wrong.  After several years, Christmas becomes whatever the household can make of it.  The adjustment is, for some, difficult and for others more difficult.

The difficulty lies, mostly, in the ability to get food items considered “traditional” by a household when no money is available to purchase them in a grocery store.

Once, I heard some pantry shoppers talking in the line about holidays past.  Their conversation centered around people celebrating by eating too much delicious food and visiting  with relatives, friends, neighbors while swapping stories, catching up on the news.

For more and more people living in poverty, this just doesn’t happen.  Both households and individuals find themselves unable to finance the expense of the holiday event.

Not only can they not afford the food, more and more people no longer have the table to sit at, the chairs to sit on, and the stove to cook the food.  Recipes, pots and pans, china, silverware, crystal are long since gone.  Eating without a kitchen is the way of the modern household living on a minimum wage.

With luck, today’s struggling class household will have the gas to get the car to a soup kitchen.  Otherwise, it’s going to be a regular day with a meal prepared in a crock pot, or on a hot plate.  The economic situation for some is that just to take the day off and still be able to buy groceries the next day is more a goal than anything else.

Realities faced by the hungry pantry shopper weigh on my shoulders every day of the year.  This weight keeps me squirreling away food so the pantry shelves can be stocked for celebrations with canned soup, canned gravy, potatoes, stuffing mix, canned green beans, cranberry sauce, chicken broth and all the fruits and vegetables that can be gotten at food drives and the food bank.  Storeroom space and a few freezers at the food pantry are essential.

Pantry volunteers have a difficult time just keeping up with the ever increasing client census.  Those with a stable shopper base, a large storeroom and connections can begin scrounging in  July to set aside food.  It’s extremely challenging to get several hundred or a thousand of an item in the summer and store the food until December.

After several years and several holidays, the food gatherer in the household becomes, if time allows, more skilled at scrounging for food in both the pantry and the grocery store.  The difficulty lies, mostly, in the ability to get food items considered “traditional” by a household when no money is available to purchase the items in a supermarket.

While distributing food, I mentally predict who’s going to be successful at scrounging and gathering by the sound of the automobile as it’s driven into the parking lot of the pantry.   A successful holiday dinner depends on a working automobile, time available between jobs, and the energy to sustain the search.

Transportation challenges, disabilities, and serious illness in the family can defeat all efforts.

Thank you for reading this article.

Please share this story with your preferred social media network.

Thurman Greco

Woodstock, NY

Book Update:  “A Healer’s Handbook” has been published and is available on Nook and Kindle!  It will be available in the paper version in early January.  If you order it now, it will be mailed directly to you upon publication.

More information about this book can be found on Thurmangreco.com.

Publication of “The Unworthy Hungry” is now scheduled for January 2018.

Thank you for your support and your patience.  Now that “Healer’s Handbook” has been published, there will be more frequent and regularly published articles on all blogs.

Thanks Again

Voices not Heard in the Hallway

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We’re having a white Christmas in Woodstock.  The tree is up on the village green!

Voices can be heard in the hallway, just like all year long.

Except:

One thing no one ever discusses in the hallway of the pantry is the past.  The shoppers speak about things that happened in the past week or so but never much beyond.  Whatever took place before the food pantry came into their lives  just isn’t on the agenda.

As holidays approach, no one ever mentions the Thanksgivings, Christmases, Hanukkahs, Passovers, Easters they had before their lives spun out of control.  No one ever mentions that there wasn’t enough money to get Passover food which isn’t available in our pantry.

No one ever asks a child what Santa is going to bring.

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Thank you for reading this blog.

Please refer this article to your preferred social media network.

One thing:  the reflexology book, “A Healers Handbook” by me, Thurman Greco, is finished!  It will soon be available for purchase and can be bought now in the ebook version at Kindle and Nook.  For you, the reader of this blog, this means that I’ll be posting much more often now.

Thurman Greco

 

Ho Hum – Just Another Miracle

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No question about it, miracles do happen.  Maybe you don’t believe in miracles.  I do.  I was in denial for the longest time.  But, after awhile, I had to face reality.  There were simply too many coincidences:

One September pantry day a few years ago the lines were longer than usual and the shelves were emptying out fast.  “I think we’re going to run out of food” I mentioned under my breath to Marie Duane, a volunteer from St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church.

“Do we have a plan for this kind of event?” I asked myself.

Then, to quote the Reverend Mike Huckabee, “God showed up.”

I know this statement is  applicable here because  the moment I began muttering under my breath, it was  as if someone had blown a whistle.  A red haired woman drove up in a tan SUV filled with bags and bags of food she collected from Congregation Agudas Achim in Kingston.  Harriet Kazansky unloaded enough canned and boxed food to get us through the day with some food left over!

One December, the Wednesday after Christmas, to be exact, John Mower drove up with a car trunk filled with canned vegetables for the pantry.  What a gift!  Our pantry was completely bare that December.  Then, the next day, along came another trunk load.  He finally quit after three trips to the pantry.  He filled the shelves for the next pantry day.

One Tuesday morning in the pantry, Peggy Johnson was upset because she didn’t have enough food to prepare the take out bags for the fourteen families she delivered food to every week.  Food had been scarce and this week the take out area seemed  empty.  A large man suddenly walked in the door carrying an extremely large box filled with canned and boxed food.  A Kingston fireman who grew up in the Woodstock area, he made Peggy promise to never reveal his name.  However, she didn’t have to keep his gift a secret:  in one trip down the pantry hallway, carrying a box large enough to hold everything needed, he single handedly provided all the food for the home bound families that week.  Our pantry has never heard from him since.

In the pantry hallway, we had an Item of Dignity closet.  where shoppers could take a roll of toilet paper and one other item each time they shopped.  We were forbidden by the building committee to have clothing in this closet.

One Wednesday afternoon I noticed a pair of new boots.  I have no idea where they came from.  They certainly didn’t come in disguised as deodorant or shampoo.  Anyway, Prasida needed a pair of winter boots.  One of the volunteers took them off the shelf.

“Prasida, can you wear wear these boots?”  Prasida came over to the closet, looked them over, and put them on.

“Ahhh – a perfect fit!  Thank you Amma!  Now I won’t have cold feet this winter in my summer sandals.”

At one point, I was reading Doreen Virtue’s book “Archangels and Ascended Masters”.  One night I read about Saint Therese, also known as the Little Flower.  The story goes that if one prays to St. Therese, she will send a rose as a sign that the request has been heard.  The next day, I found a rose on the pantry floor as I walked into the room.

But, the real miracle happened repeatedly in the pantry as the shoppers and volunteers both began to heal and change and grow from the community, their commitment, and the experiences in the pantry.  When people first started coming to the pantry, either to volunteer or shop, they were focused inward on their own problems, issues, health.  After a short time, they began to focus on their friends in the pantry.  They became concerned about something bigger than themselves and their private struggles.

In short…they became new.

Thanks for reading this blog/book.  The stories are true.  The people are real.

Please share this article with your preferred social network.

The book is still in progress!  It’s going to happen!

 

Making the Most of What You Get at the Food Pantry

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More and more pantries offer fresh vegetables and fruits. A challenge sometimes is making it last when it gets to your kitchen. Following are a few tips to help keep the food better. Even though it’s only going to be around for a day or two before you eat it, you want it to look its best, taste its best, and have the most nutrients possible.

FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Store LETTUCE, SALAD GREENS, and MUSHROOMS in a refrigerator on the middle or lower shelf away from fans because these items freeze quickly.
CUCUMBERS suffer from chill damage. You’ll have better luck with them if you store them on an upper shelf or on the door of the refrigerator.
CITRUS FRUITS release ethylene gas so it’s best to separate CITRUS FRUITS, MELONS AND APPLES away from delicate foods such as LETTUCE.
Some fruits and vegetables should not be refrigerated: BANANAS, GRAPEFRUITS, LEMONS, LIMES, MANGOES, MELONS, ORANGES, PAPAYAS, POTATOES, ONIONS, TOMATOES, AND AVOCADOS all do better when stored on a counter top.
Ripening some fruits on a counter top is best: AVOCADOS, KIWI FRUIT, NECTARINES, PEACHES, PEARS, AND PLUMS. After these foods are ripe, you may choose to put them in the refrigerator.
Fruits to store in the refrigerator include: APPLES, APRICOTS, BLACKBERRIES, BLUEBERRIES, CHERRIES, CUT FRUITS, FIGS, GRAPES, ASIAN PEARS, RASPBERRIES, STRAWBERRIES
Vegetables to store in the refrigerator include: ASPARAGUS, GREEN BEANS, LIMA BEANS, BEETS, BROCCOLI, BRUSSELS SPROUTS, CABBAGE, CARROTS, CAULIFLOWER, CELERY, COLLARD GREENS, CUT VEGETABLES, ESCAROLE, GREENS, GREEN ONIONS, LEAFY VEGETABLES, LEEKS, LETTUCE, MUSHROOMS, PEAS, RADISHES, SPINACH, SUMMER SQUASHES, AND SWEET CORN.

POULTRY
When working with poultry, the wrapping should be completely unbroken with no punctures.
Raw poultry should have a fresh smell with no odor. It should be firm to the touch. It should not be sticky. There should be no discoloration. The internal temperature of raw poultry should be lower than 40F degrees.
Poultry should be stored separately from all other foods. It should be kept on the lowest shelf in the refrigerator to prevent contamination from dripping.
Anything that comes in contact with poultry or its juices should be cleaned and sanitized immediately.
Frozen poultry should have no soft spots.
Partially thawed poultry should be used immediately.
Poultry cannot be kept at room temperature for more than two hours.
Wash hands immediately after handling poultry.

MILK
Milk stays fresh up to six days past the sell-by date. Frozen milk can be stored longer.
If milk sours, use it in a baking recipe calling for buttermilk.
Sour milk is not unsafe to drink.

CULTURED PRODUCTS
COTTAGE CHEESE, YOGURT, SOUR CREAM, AND CREAM CHEESE are considered to be cultured products with a longer shelf life than milk. If the container is open, cultured products can be used up to six weeks past the sell-by date.

http://www.ChooseMyPlate.gov

http://www.allianceforpositivehealth.org

Thank you for reading this book/blog.
Please share this article on your preferred social media network.
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Peace and food for all.
Thurman Greco