I got a visit from a politician today, asking for my vote.
I simply couldn’t help myself so I told him about the hungry in America. It was easy to talk about the one in seven seniors in our country who don’t have enough to eat. And I talked about the one in five children in our country who don’t have enough to eat either.
This young politician is interested in the welfare of Americans and talked a lot about health care and jobs and equal pay. He talked about funding for seniors and programs for seniors. He discussed everything but food. Frankly, there was not one mention of food.
And, I stood there and listened to the speech and just couldn’t stand it any more.
Until this young man really sees hunger for what it is, he’ll never know the real situation for what it is. It may be years (or maybe never) before he realizes how hard it is for the elderly to get food when their shoulders and knees don’t work, they no longer drive, and they live in a food desert.
Routinely, seniors choose between food and transportation, food and housing, food and health care.
Few know about food pantries and hunger unless they work and shop in one. Beyond that, a food pantry is hidden. People shopping in one certainly don’t tell anyone where they get their groceries. And, those working in one don’t talk much either.
Pantry food distributed to families helps children learn better in school and help their parents work harder at the many jobs they hold down.
When people come to a pantry, they can forget for a while their situation often means they pay more for what they get if they live in a food desert. And that, at times, they simply get less because the food may not be available in their neighborhood.
Often, they do without if they have no access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Instead, they go through the pantry line and leave with foods they could not otherwise buy.
On behalf of everyone who shops or volunteers at a food pantry, I offer gratitude for the wonderful food available to the many hungry people who need it.
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It’s OUT! It’s in print! The story has been told! And, you can get a copy. Today! Right now!
Simply go to thurmangreco.com and order it on paypal.
If you prefer, you can wait until next Wednesday, and get it on Amazon.
And, it’s beginning to appear in independent book stores.
What began as a project, guaranteed not to take no more than two hours a month has become a calling. And, as of this week, it’s become a non-profit seeking food and funds to feed the hungry.
It took more than five years of work. Reams and Reams of paper were used. Two computers blew up. One copier died of exhaustion.
Get the book, read it, and let me know how you feel about what you read.
And, please share this unbelievably exciting news.
And, watch for the T-shirts!
I’ve got a food drive going now. Please donate peanut butter. Locally, you can donate food, at 31 Tannery Brook, Woodstock.
Any and all food and funds you donate will go to a food pantry. You can send a check to Thurman Greco, 31 Tannery Brook, Woodstock, NY 12498. OR, you can make a donation via paypal. You can get to the paypal site by going to http://www.thurmangreco.com.
OR, you can give something directly to your local food pantry!
And, thank you in advance for understanding the situation and for sharing what you can with those who have less than you.
Help me FEED THE HUNGRY!
Peace and food for all.
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This is the season for a food drive! It’s food drive time!
Food drives are important in the spring and early summer because food pantry shelves are depleted now. Storerooms are empty. The emptiness will continue from now until the fall.
It’s food drive time!
Food pantries everywhere are trying to build their stocks up for the worst month of the year: August.
So, now is a really good time for you to put on your generous hat and donate food to your food pantry! There are a couple of ways to do this.
You can clean out your kitchen shelves and give the food you know you are never going to use to a nearby food pantry. That’s an easy, and tried-and-true way to donate food. But, if you want to get creative, there are other ways to go about donating food to a food pantry.
Do you have a birthday or anniversary coming up? Invite everyone you know to a party celebrating your birthday or anniversary and ask everyone to bring food for a food pantry instead of a gift.
Have a food drive where you ask someone in a group you belong to for donations. This can be pretty easy. You can have a work food drive or a school food drive or a church group food drive. It really doesn’t matter what the group is. What matters is that you and a group of your co-workers get together and give food to a food pantry to feed hungry people.
When you are planning a food drive, don’t forget that pantries are in need of items of dignity. Now might be a good time to hold an Item of Dignity drive. People are always looking for toothbrushes, toilet paper, razors, tampons.
The truth is that food pantries are not perfect. Not anywhere near perfect, actually. And, they never will be. How can they be near perfect when there is often not enough food in the pantry to feed the many people shopping there?
But, they get to be as near to perfection as they do because the people who work in them are often retired, elderly volunteers who really care and have the time to put in extra effort.
And, how can they be perfect when the food is mostly donated food that was on its way to the landfill before some enterprising person snapped it up for the hungry people in the line?
And, the truth is that food pantries, to a certain extent, are neighbors helping neighbors. This is a wonderful attitude.
The positive energy is exhibited in this sharing wonderful world, indeed. Without these wonderful people and their generous attitudes, people would be starving in this great nation of ours. Food pantries are our first line of defense against hunger.
But, often these food pantries which depend to a great extent on the generosity of individuals simply don’t have enough food. Insufficient is the word used.
Because there is little oversight, there is little control. So, a person shopping at a pantry may get enough to eat or may not. The quality of the food has little oversight. So, the person shopping may be getting food which is all out-of-date, or which is food which cannot be eaten by the person needing the food.
An example of this is the person without teeth. People without teeth are very restricted in what they can take because they can’t chew many foods.
Another example is the diabetic person who can only eat certain types of food without health problems.
And, all quality issues aside, there may simply be insufficient food in the pantry to feed the number of people shopping even though a pantry is the first line of defense against hunger.
Personally, in the Good Neighbor Food Pantry, I had a morning when I ran out of food. I simply didn’t have enough food to give to the people. This was an experience I’ll never forget.
Finally, the Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program people sent down guidelines requiring that pantries serve a three-day-supply of food for each person in the household. HPNAP guidelines required that pantries serve fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. Pantries were asked to serve whole grain breads and low-fat milk.
This was a wonderful thing which I applauded enthusiastically when I learned about the guideline. However, it was challenging to the many pantries without freezers and refrigerators.
The truth is that pantries everywhere simply don’t have enough food to meet the demand.
What can we do about this? For starters, we can realize that pantries are our first line of defense against hunger in this country.
Then, we can follow up this realization with food donations throughout the year.
One can of something every week helps over time. Find a pantry and give to help those in need. Do you plant a garden in the summer? Add a row for your pantry!
Thank you for what you are doing for those in need.
IT’S COMING SOON!
After countless reams of computer paper, dozens and dozens of writing classes, three computers and two copiers, the book about hunger is at the publisher’s!
And, I actually heard the word “done” today! I’m ecstatic beyond words!
Somebody else could have done it with only one computer disaster and one copier blow up. But, I never claimed to be a writer.
This endeavor took years. And, it was worth it. I felt this story needed to be told when I started writing it in 2013 and I’m sticking to my opinion. Hunger in America was then and is now a national event which needs to be shared.
A real Woodstock story, “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore” tells about the people in the pantry, channels my grandmother, and reveals a few miracles.
I’m proud to say that “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore” will, within days, be available in paperback and eBook editions on Amazon.
I am already scheduling book signings for this book. If you are in the area, I look forward to seeing you at one near you!
You can purchase this book by going to my website at http://www.thurmangreco.com.
Order your copy, and please share this unbelievably exciting news!
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Everyone coming to a pantry travels down a path. For many, this journey is a real load lightener. As the finances erode, the house goes. And, of course, when the house goes, everything that was in it goes too.
Furniture, kitchen stuff, toys, clothes, tools, garden implements. By the time a person or family gets to Motel 19, things have slimmed down to a few clothes, a blanket or two, a hot plate, or maybe an electric skillet or microwave.
For the families living in Model 19, the children are usually eligible for the school breakfast and/or lunch program. But, that doesn’t cover eating at home. And, there’s no lunch program for the adults.
So…it’s off to the pantry.
Several families usually pile in a car and come over for an afternoon of pantry shopping. Or, an individual hitch hikes. In order for this trip to succeed, several guidelines to follow will help:
Try to arrive an hour or so before the pantry opens. This makes for a long wait but there’s more of a selection right when the pantry opens. Also, while waiting in line, there’s an opportunity to make new friends and learn a few survival skills if you’re new to the pantry experience.
Bring your own shopping bags. Some pantries don’t have enough of these much needed items.
Bring some ID. Some pantries require much: picture ID, proof of address, proof that other household members exist. This can be a bit tough if you’re homeless. Hint: some pantries require little to no identification
Be prepared to wait in a line. Use this time to meet your line neighbors. They can be helpful if you’re trying to navigate your way through DSS, if you’re being foreclosed upon, need your car repaired, etc.
As you wait in line, try to learn how the pantry works from those around you in the line. You’ll want to know how long you’ll be in the shopping room, what foods are usually on the shelves, what other pantries the people in line shop at, etc.
Don’t be afraid to let people know you’ve never been to a pantry.
Once you find a pantry you can use, go every time you’re allowed. If you’re lucky, you’ll have a pantry in your area which will allow weekly visits. Because pantry shopping takes so much time, shoppers sometimes just don’t go if they still have SNAP card money or if they have a few bucks left over from a paycheck. Your best bet is to go every week.
Why? Most pantries have different food every week and you may miss out on some real savings by not attending regularly.
Pantry shopping requires a totally new approach to cooking. So does cooking with only an electric skillet or microwave.
Some pantries have periodic visits from a nutritionist. Don’t be shy about asking him/her for any tips you might need to help this adjustment a bit easier for you. Nutritionists know a lot about the food you are now trying to cook with and they can answer any questions you might have.
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PS: This book is at the publisher’s now. It will be available SOON! You can order it at http://www.thurmangreco.com.
The world of people who are homeless may seem very foreign – But, it’s actually very near. We meet people every day who are just like us, only they don’t have a roof over their heads.
We can all find ourselves without a roof when we lose a job. Or, maybe a spouse dies. Possibly an accident which leaves physical disabilities is the cause. In short, all it takes is a personal tragedy.
There are many things we can do to help end homelessness. There are many, many things we can do to help those who are struggling with homelessness.
One easy way we can help is to take a little extra food along when we go out of our home to work or on errands. A few extra sandwiches will help. When a person asks for change, offer him or her a sandwich.
A couple of times each year, gather the clothes you are no longer going to wear and donate them to shelters and pantries providing services to help those who are homeless.
While you gather clothes for the homeless, look at your family’s toys, books, and games and select those that are no longer being used. Children living in shelters have few possessions and will enjoy them.
Can you spare an hour or two? Tutors can make all the difference. Volunteer to tutor children in shelters.
Celebrate your birthday or anniversary and ask the people you invite to bring items for the homeless.
Carry fast food certificates with you when you are going out. Hand them out to people who are homeless.
Hold a food drive and take the food to a shelter or a pantry in your area.
Donate your collectable recyclable cans and bottles to people who are homeless. Donate a bag of groceries to a soup kitchen, shelter, or food pantry.
Volunteer at a food pantry or shelter.
Volunteer your professional services. Lawyers, doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and dentists can all use your skills when you volunteer at a pantry or shelter.
Ask your company, church, school to host a fund-raising event for a pantry or homeless shelter. Items of dignity are really needed by the homeless.
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PS: The hunger book is really moving along. Things just never get finished as quickly as we all wish. Writing a book requires years and years of research and writing. In writing the hunger book, I have gone through thousands and thousands of sheets of paper and three computers. I have spent years and years getting this story moved from an event in my life to a book which will attract you or not in less than two minutes.
The homeless have problems just like you and me: employment, health issues, disabilities, domestic violence. They just don’t have a roof over their heads.
Homeless people, families enter food pantries very quietly. They’ve lost their voices. The goal is to melt into the background, get food, and disappear.
There’s an exception to the voicelessness – when the person communicates with beings unknown to the rest of us. One shopper I know has been in another world since before I began working in the pantry in 2005. He communicates in a high, shrill, unknown tongue which I cannot describe. His shrill vowels are punctuated with hard, sharp whistles, clicks, squeaks.
We can all help homeless people in some way. Each of us has talents and skills which can be useful.
DONATE. Homeless people carry their kitchens in their pockets . So much food which we take for granted is just not helpful. Important in the homeless diet is peanut butter and crackers in individually wrapped packages, cereal in self-serve packaging. Fruits and vegetables which can be eaten raw, milk and/or fruit juice in individual containers. Donate these items throughout the year by regularly giving the food to a food pantry in your area which is homlesss friendly.
VOLUNTEER. Pantries everywhere need an extra set of hands to answer mail, drive a truck, serve food, clean up at closing time, send press releases, hold food drives, stock and straighten shelves, deliver food to the home bound.
CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSETS. Donate clothing, bedding, books, and other gently used items to places where the homeless will have access to them.
SHARE. Do you or someone you know have a garden? Donate the excess to a homeless friendly pantry in your area. When your garden tomatoes get to be too plentiful, there are those in your area who need the food.
PUSH THE ENVELOPE. Contact elected officials about homeless issues in your area. Encourage them to make ending homelessness important in your community.
EDUCATE YOURSELF. Returning veterans have special needs. For one thing, they begin separation from the military homeless.
FIND A JOB. Encourage your church or community to hire a homeless person. Many homeless want to work, have skills, but have trouble finding regular employment.
DO YOU HAVE A SKILL TO SHARE? Contact a local shelter and offer to give classes.
For a time, one of our most trusted volunteer/shoppers was homeless. His partner, Nancy, died and her children didn’t want him in the house they had lived in together for many years. He fought her children for a year with a lawyer, made several trips to court, the whole enchilada.
He finally moved out and ended up homeless for a time. He eventually got housing through a homeless veterans program. I helped him move his clothes and things over to his new apartment in Saugerties.
Homelessness cannot be generalized. Each homeless person is a special personality and has a special situation which s/he deals with. So here’s my rule about homeless people:
IF YOU’VE SEEN ONE HOMELESS PERSON, YOU’VE SEEN ONE HOMELESS PERSON.
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BOOK UPDATE: The new hunger book is going to be out soon. The publisher assures me that we’re going to see the book within a month! Hurrah!
SNAP is important. SNAP will help you if you are having trouble buying groceries.
SNAP is important for your community, too, because when you are able to get food with SNAP, you will have cash available to help pay your rent or buy gas to get back and forth to work.
Have you, or has someone you know, applied for SNAP? SNAP was formerly known as food stamps.. SNAP is about all that’s left in the way of assistance for people because welfare is shrinking and shrinking and shrinking yet again.
If you are having trouble paying for your groceries, now is a good time to apply. If you’ve applied in the past and were denied, maybe you need to apply again. You may, after all, have answered a question incompletely or incorrectly and were denied this benefit. Try again. You might do better this time around, especially if you or someone in your house is disabled or is a senior with medical expenses.
Some people are reluctant to apply for SNAP because they don’t know if they are eligible. Or, maybe they applied in the past but were denied. Many people don’t know how to apply and are overwhelmed by the application. Some people have never heard of SNAP and think of it as food stamps.
One thing: If you work, you need to know how to meet the work requirements.
Some information is needed to successfully apply for SNAP. This information comes in several categories.
Proof of income is necessary. This comes in the form of pay stubs, social security income information.
An identification is needed. This might be a State ID, passport, birth certificate, etc.
Bills help. This will include medical, heating, water, auto, rent.
Your social security number and the numbers of everyone in your household is necessary.
Dependent Care Costs will help. These include day care costs, child support, attendant for disabled adult.
Contact your local Department of Social Services office to arrange for application assistance. If this doesn’t work for you, contact your Office on Aging or Catholic Charities.
SNAP is an important benefit which will help you if you are having trouble buying groceries.
SNAP is important for your community, too, because when you are able to get food with stamps, you will have cash available to help pay your rent or buy gas to get back and forth to work.
SNAP is important for your household because you’ll be able to get more food with your SNAP card and you won’t be hungry anymore.
This translates to better health.
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Please forward this article to anyone and everyone you know who might be able to have a better life with SNAP.
This book is being published now and will be available soon!
This book will be going to the publisher before the end of the year.
Lord, thank You for the food pantry where I work.
And, Lord, thank You for the shoppers and volunteers I’ve come to know through our work here.
I ask You Lord, have patience as we learn to pray for one another and care for one another. Our pantry work is a glorification of Your name as You work miracles in our midst. Thank You for the difference You make in all our lives.
Lord, You teach us much in this pantry. For starters, You’ve taught us that the hungry shall be fed – no matter what – no matter why – no matter who.
We experience what it means to be new as we learn what it’s like to work with, accept, and feel welcome – both the worthy and the unworthy.
We’re learning that we’re all Your people. We are all accepted. We are all holy. We are all worthy. The pantry is faith in action.
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