Hunger Is Not a Disease

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.

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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

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Peace and food for all.
Thurman Greco

Prayer for the Hungry – Number 3

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I stand before you humbly, O Holy One, the One God of Israel as I offer a prayer for the hungry .

I offer thanksgiving, praises, blessings in this prayer for the hungry.

I ask for your forgiveness and mercy, O God.  All life is in Your hands.

I come to you humbly, asking for protection – not for myself but for those hungry individuals and families who shop in food pantries everywhere.  This hunger weaves the souls of these shoppers together for all time.

Grant them hope and strength to travel through their days  courageously.

O Holy One, give them grace, mercy, harmony, peace.

Teach those of us working in pantries  to have patience as we support the hungry in their struggle to carry on day after day after day against all odds.

Please let us remember that,  through religious teaching everywhere,   we know You feed all of us – not only physically but spiritually.  Let this awareness  give the hungry confidence that their needs are being met.  Let this knowledge inspire us to make sure that everyone shopping at pantries everywhere receives the food and support necessary to carry on in the never relenting struggle.  Remind us continually that we are doing Your work.

Help us choose the right words as we communicate with the hungry so that a chance remark won’t make things worse.

Make us always aware of the hungry who are homeless and suffering with mental illness.  May you grant them complete healing – of body, mind, and spirit.

O God to Whom we all Pray, I offer you my most sincere gratitude for all you have don, are doing, and will do for those of us who suffer with hunger and homelessness.

And, now I say Amen.

Prayer for the Hungry – Number 2

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O Heavenly Father

I offer You gratitude for all Your blessings and love which You continually share with parents struggling with underemployment, poor health, insufficient food, transportation challenges.

I ask You, the source of all living things, to protect and guard parents who shop at the pantry.

Help them listen to their children’s needs as they struggle to live a life with insufficient resources… time, money, housing, health care.

Offer the peace which can only come when they know that You are a part of their lives every day.

O Heavenly Father, help them overcome their greatest fear – hunger.

Guide their lives so that no one in their household is hungry.

Encourage them to see the positive aspects of their lives.

Teach them to co-create abundance

Give them the courage to reach out when their needs are overwhelming.

Let them know that  they can be secure in their paths.

Teach them to travel through their lives with grace.

Offer them the wisdom they need to hear Your guidance.

When, if…they question the struggle, please let them know You are with them always.

Please, gently touch their lives with your healing hands when health issues become almost too much to bear.

I ask these things in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

 

Thank you for reading this blog dedicated to food pantries.

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Thurman Greco

Woodstock, NY

Art Work  donated by Jennette Nearhood

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prayer for the Hungry – Number 1

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O GOD

Allow me to serve the hungry with an understanding heart.

Give me the courage to distribute food without strings being attached.

May I never need to keep score.

Give me the physical strength to keep the shelves of the pantry stocked with as much food as we can pack on them.

Please help me to understand the many needs of the shoppers.

Never let me get so tired that I forget that we are all one group – Yours, O God.

You can help

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Your support is crucial to food pantries.  Food pantry volunteers everywhere  are committed to feeding the hungry with dignity and awareness.  People working in pantries  know  of the connection and kinship to every person who needs food.

When you help your local pantry, you  not only strengthen your community, but  offer  some peace and harmony for those caught in a seemingly never ending struggle.

When you support  a food pantry you help the volunteers in their work to feed the hungry.  No pantry can  succeed without you!  Here are some opportunities for participation:

SEND A PANTRY A FINANCIAL GIFT.

Pantries everywhere  need $$$ to keep  going.  Your contributions are tax deductible.  Think of a food pantry the next time you prepare your taxes.

CONSIDER A PERIODIC  DONATION.

It’s easy to set up a monthly or quarterly donation in whatever amount you choose on Paypal if your pantry of choice is signed up.    If you prefer to send a check, let the pantry treasurer  know so you can get some  self addressed envelopes to make the job easier.  Regular donations offer a financial flow coming to the pantry.  This is, really, the easiest way to offer your support.

PAY A SPECIFIC BILL FOR THE PANTRY.

One of the biggest ongoing expenses a pantry has is gasoline for pantry  vehicles.    You can help  in this effort when you buy a gas card for the pantry.  The volunteers will be appreciate  your generosity.

GIVE A DONATION TO HONOR A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER.

Often, when you give a contribution as a gift to a friend or loved one, the pantry  will send a personalized card to the recipient acknowledging your gift.  Include the name and address of the honoree, along with your tax deductible donation so the volunteer can do this.

SHARE THIS LETTER WITH EVERYONE ON YOUR EMAIL LIST.

Please forward this post to everyone you know.

PRAYERS, LOVING SUPPORT, AND KIND THOUGHTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME.

Thank you for  supporting your local food pantry.  You are important.  I send blessings your way.  Pantries do not work in a vacuum.  They simply cannot succeed without your help.

http://www.greatnationseat.org

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco

The Monks are Going, Going, Gone

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They came in quietly, unannounced, a couple of years ago on the 10:05 Trailways  bus from Boston.    Eighteen monks in all.   They were transferred out of a lovely monastery in Brookline, Massachusetts,  these priests who traditionally never move at all.

They left quietly these last few weeks, unannounced.  They’re moving to a brand new monastery north of Albany.  Funny how these things happen.   I get the feeling that God is grinning from ear to ear.

We met them because, when they showed up in Woodstock they were temporarily hungry.  The story was slow to surface and I wrote about it earlier in this blog and on the Good Morning Woodstock Blog .  They shopped at the Good Neighbor Food Pantry until they got their budget straightened out.  Once we found them, Peggy made sure they didn’t lack for anything if the pantry had anything to do with it.

In a very short time, weeks, they were delivering food to the home bound on Tuesday mornings with the other pantry volunteers.  They filled out an application to be a food  pantry with the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley.  And, finally, they were attending our mass distributions.

Within a few short months they had their own food pantry going and were serving food to the hungry seven days a week.

Without saying a word, these men of the cloth showed us all how to feed the hungry.    They didn’t skimp.  They made as many food runs to Albany as they needed.  They offered whatever food they had to anyone who needed it.

Then, when I went out and helped open the Reservoir Food Pantry, they made sure we never lacked for yogurt.  Every time the pantry opened we had a freezer filled  for our hungry.

I mean, these priests showed us all how to feed the hungry.  They didn’t offer a three-day-supply of food to someone with the understanding that it needed to last seven days.  They didn’t spend a lot of time focusing on questions about where people lived.  It didn’t matter whether a person was homeless or not.

When the hungry pulled away from the Holy Assumption Monastery Food Pantry, they had  enough food to not only feed the body but the soul.

So now, the priests, who traditionally never  leave a monastery and move to another monastery, are packing up their gorgeous beeswax candle factory, their Food Bank ID number, and moving off to a community which really needs their skills, their dedication, their belief system.

Frankly, I was devastated when I heard the news.  I went out to visit and write the story.  I couldn’t do it.

I sat, visited, and kept asking myself “How can this happen?”  The answer is easy, folks.  They are being asked to take their skills and expertise to Schoharie County where no one is going to question the ethics of feeding the hungry.

And, I  take comfort in the fact that we have not been abandoned in Woodstock.  We have been taught our lesson.  So…now the monastery is being converted into a convent.

These gorgeous men of God are taking their smiles, their radiant halos, their worship, and their food pantry skills to Cobbleskill, New York and they will press on with their daily lives.

The good nuns will have a pantry in Bearsville for our hungry. I understand they’ve already got their own Food Bank ID number.   God is making sure we don’t forget what we learned.

Thank you for reading this blog/book.

Please refer this article to your preferred social media network.

Thurman Greco

 

Hunger is Not a Disease

 

FullSizeRender-1-300x278This week’s post is not going to happen.

There will be no new articles until after the first week in January because I am working on my reflexology book.

Thank you for your patience.  This is a project which I must finish.

I wish you a truly joyful and abundant new year!

Thurman Greco

How to Successfully Shop at a Food Pantry

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At a time when people are busy wrapping gifts and planning festivities, some are struggling just to pay the rent and buy gas to get to work.  Hungry is not a category of people.  It’s a situation that happens.  It can happen to anyone.  December is especially hard on those visiting a food pantry for the first time.  It’s the reason I write this guide

Leave fear, embarrassment, shame, tears at the door.  Most people using pantries are finally in a place where they can rebuild and heal.  When the struggle for food is relieved, life finally feels as if it’s getting better.  For many, the pantry is a safe place.  This is a good group to join.

Arrive a hour before the pantry opens  This makes for a long wait but there’s a better selection right at the beginning.   Use this time to network with your line neighbors.  They can be a resource if you’re trying to  navigate your way through Department of Social Services, being foreclosed upon, get your car repaired.

Learn how long you’ll be in the shopping room, what foods are usually found on the shelves, whether you get to choose the food or receive a bag of groceries, what other pantries people shop at.

Bring some ID.  Some pantries require much:  photo ID, proof of residence, proof that other family members exist.

Once you’re registered, shop every time you’re allowed.  With luck, you’ll find a pantry offering weekly visits.  People sometimes just don’t go if they still have any SNAP card (food stamp) money or if they have a few bucks left over from a paycheck.  Pantries have different food every week and you may miss out on some real savings by not shopping often.

Some pantries have periodic visits from nutritionists offering recipes and food tastings.  Don’t be shy.  Ask for information you need to adjust to the new way of cooking offered by pantries where food choices are different from the super market.  If you’re suddenly cooking with only a crock pot or microwave, the nutritionist can be a valuable resource.

You may see fresh fruits and vegetables you don’t recognize.  At each pantry visit, take home one new food, find a recipe and prepare it.  If you do this, your cooking skills will be vastly improved over time.

Volunteer.  Giving away food and sharing smiles with those around you offers its own spirituality.  You’ll interact with people you never thought in your wildest dreams you would ever even meet.  Pantry shoppers are traveling down a path away from hunger.  Go with this journey which opens the door to inner growth.

Stick with this new routine.  It’s the 21st century way to get delicious, nutritious groceries  for your household.  It’s been years since pantries offered exclusively emergency food.

Thank you for reading this blog/book.

Please share this article with your preferred social media network.  Also, please share this information with anyone who may be able to use it.

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Peace and food for all..

Thurman Greco

Take $1 – Leave $1

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The young musician’s sign said it all:

TAKE $1

LEAVE  $1

She sat on the sidewalk in front of Houst the other day, with her guitar box open.  True to Woodstock tradition, she was singing for  tips.  Her sign, her posture, her music really resonated with me.  I really feel that we are now fast approaching the point in our country  where our residents are divided into two groups:

those who use pantries, soup kitchens

those who do not use pantries, soup kitchens

So, that puts us in the Take $1 –  Leave $1 lifestyle.

Food pantries  and soup kitchens, through the food distribution process work relentlessly to end hunger.  Most  people working in pantries or soup kitchens are volunteers who understand  they offer hope and sustenance to a community of people living with and affected by  hunger and, in some cases, homelessness.

Any amount you can spare will help make the pantry or soup kitchen you support a better place.  Please send a donation today.  Your gift will make a difference in the lives of people who have little and need a lot.  Take $1 – Leave $1

Thank you in advance for your generosity.

Thurman Greco

Thank you for reading this blog.  The story is true.  The people are real.

Please refer this article to your preferred social media network.

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http://www.feedingamerica.org