Hunger Is Not a Disease

Starving Seniors?

 

Starving seniors?  Is that too harsh a word?

Let’s ratchet it down:  hungry.

Or, maybe:  food insecure.  Yeah, that’s better.  It sounds better anyway.

Call it what you want, the event is the same.  It’s your grandmother or grandfather (or me…I’m certainly a grandmother) caught in a situation where there’s simply not enough food in the house.

Seniors living on Social Security are finding themselves routinely choose between food and medicine, food and transportation.  When they need new clothes, seniors regularly shop at the boutique of the closet.

The issues with seniors and food insecurity are serious because when seniors no longer have the money to buy the food they need for proper nutrition or why they can no longer buy the medicines they need, they become ill and finally end up being cared for by their children or they end up in a nursing home.

I know many stories about:

The older woman in Woodstock living on mashed potatoes.

The older woman in Bearsville who ended up in a nursing home when she was cut off from her pantry take out food and didn’t have the resources or physical ability to get to a grocery store.

The older man who doesn’t have enough money for food and is slowly starving to death.

There is food available for all these people

if they can get to a pantry

if they can connect with a pantry offering take out food

if they can sign up for SNAP (food stamps).

I recently spoke with a retired friend.  “Richard, do you get SNAP?”

“No.”

“Why Richard?  SNAP is usually easy to get.  All you have to do is apply.”

“Well, I’m getting by without it.  Let someone else, needier than me, get the money.”

“Richard, think about getting SNAP.  This is something you paid for with your taxes.  Why leave money on the table?”

I haven’t convinced him yet.  However, we’re not through negotiating.  As seniors, we’re in a situation where every little bit helps.

The barriers to SNAP for seniors are great.  Seniors resist going to a pantry, soup kitchen, getting SNAP until they simply can’t resist any longer.  I know the feeling.  We grew up as children and went into adulthood feeling that if we worked hard and paid our taxes, we would end up okay.  We worked all our lives believing this.  And now, there simply isn’t enough.

With this event comes feelings of inadequacy and self blame.  “I must have done something wrong.  Here I am living hand-to-mouth.  I don’t even have enough money for food.  What did I do wrong?”

I don’t like a whole generation of people blaming themselves.  I feel we’re not totally to blame.  The rules have changed.  Because we’re retired, we’re not     in the rules making game anymore.  Retirees are somewhat disempowered.  Whatever happened to the Grey Panthers?

Thank you for reading this article!

Please refer it to your preferred social media network.

The new memoir about hunger in America will soon be available!  I’ll keep you in the loop.

Thanks again for your support!

Thurman Greco

 

SNAP

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.

Thank you for reading this blog post.

Please share this article with your preferred social media network.

Please forward this article to anyone and everyone you know who might be able to have a better life with SNAP.

Thurman Greco

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.

 

The Pantry

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.

Amen

Thank you for reading this article!

Please share this post with your preferred social media network.

Thank you.

Thurman Greco

It’s a Miracle!

This article was written back in 2013 when we got Miriam’s Well up and running.  I’m sharing this event with you.

Enjoy!

Lord,

When we drive Miriam’s Well up to the apartment complex, children gather round.  Their mothers shop for food.

Lord, I’m so grateful for this truck.  It took us exactly thirty-four minutes to design Miriam’s Well at the meeting in my healing space.  It took us exactly two weeks to get her together.  This truck is a miracle, Lord.  When You work a miracle, You arrange for things to work perfectly.  I love the perfection of this plan!

We put food in the back of Miriam’s Well, take it to Woodstock Commons, Woodstock Meadows, to the grounds at St. Gregory’s, and over to Tongore Pines, where the people come to shop.

There are no long lines, Lord.  There are no waits.  People just come to Miriam’s Well, get the groceries they need, visit with one another, and go home to wherever or whatever that is, with the food they need.

Dignity, smiles, positive thoughts, uplifting events.  The whole scene is reminiscent of a time at a village well in a Bible story.  That’s why we named her Miriam’s Well.

Only You could have done this Lord.  You guided our hands, hearts, minds through the entire project.

How can we ever thank You enough Lord?

Amen

Thanks for reading this article!

Please refer this post to your favorite social media network.

P S – The manuscript has gone to the publisher.  I look forward to sharing this story with you in the coming weeks.  Thanks so much for your interest!

Thurman Greco

The Big Picture

Lord,

As I work in the pantry week after week, I encounter problems.

There is not enough food, not enough space for the food we have, and not enough time to feed the hungry.

There are too many hungry shoppers, too many cars in the parking lot, too many cases of fresh fruits and vegetables, and too many cardboard boxes.

And, as I listen to the car radio when I drive back and forth to Latham on Fridays, I’m aware that I, like those around me, am concerned with problems and challenges in my own small, personal universe.

You, Lord,  see the big picture.  You see everyone’s problems and issues.  You take everyone’s world and make it all work somehow.  What we have, as humans, is a stew.  You have us all together in this universal stewpot.  In the Army, Lord, there’s a name for it:  Mongolian Stew

You are beyond all of us in scope and size.  Somehow, you stoop down and get in the stewpot with all of us and get involved in our details as You take on our problems.

Through your vision and wisdom, You see the needs of everyone and You send us love, kindness, and miracles.  You take the troubles off our shoulders.

Help me Lord, surrender to Your kindness, love, wisdom.

Help me just give the pantry over to you 100%.  Help me turn the problems of the building, the hungry, the volunteers, the church, the community, over to you.  You do the perfect job of problem solving.  After all, you are the God to whom we all pray.

How can I do anything less?  When I do this, Lord, I’ll walk in love, with a strong heart, and a solid faith.  I’ll receive a spiritual awakening.  This will bring glory to you.

Amen

The manuscript for the memoir will go to the publisher on Tuesday, January 9th!  I’m ecstatic!  I’m excited!

Thank you for reading this blog post.  Please share it with your preferred social media network.

Thank you

Thurman Greco

Serving the Hungry with an Understanding Heart

O Lord, You are a God of Abundance.

Allow me to serve the hungry with an open heart.

Give me the courage to distribute food without strings attached when volunteers are serving the hungry.

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.

Grant me the emotional stamina to understand the many needs of the shoppers.

Never let me get so tired that I forget we are all one group:  Yours

At the food pantry, hunger is hunger.  It doesn’t matter what size the household is, what size the car is, or what or where the family calls home.  At the food pantry, no one has to complete an application shop.  What’s important is that the person is in the line and there is food for that person and his/her household.

Lord, You send over the food, You send over the people and You send over enough food for everyone with some left over.  This happens every pantry day on every week.  People are always welcome.  Lord, You bring people together through the food pantry.

Thank You for all You do for the hungry.

Amen

Thank you for reading this blog.

Please share this article with your  social media network.

Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco – Woodstock, New York

But are they hungry? – Happy Holidays

 

“How dare you feed this kind of food to these people?  If they’re hungry enough they’ll eat anything.”
“That woman has a car and her son has a job.  She shouldn’t get pantry food.”

 

 

 

 

 

“How dare you serve this much food to those kinds of people?”

The “are they hungry” issue looms large in food pantry conflicts.  The fears are many and boil down to this:

1.  Financially comfortable people will shop at a pantry when they actually have the money to go to a supermarket.

2.  Riffraff are going to take the pantry food and sell it.

3.  Many people shopping at a pantry wouldn’t need to come to a pantry if they managed their money better.

Very few people are comfortable with the concept that pantry volunteers give the food away…no strings attached.  An unspoken concept here is that the hungry, the struggling class, individually and as a group should be punished for being the downtrodden.

Sometimes when I try to sort the whole thing out in my head, I’m reminded of the chicken yard my grandmother had during World War II.  Occasionally, a chicken would be ill and the other chickens would begin to peck at it.  If the chicken didn’t get well, it would be pecked to death.

For me, this is simply not an issue.  I welcome all shoppers.  They don’t have to be destitute although I did see many hungry people in a pantry.  Pantry shoppers everywhere routinely endure

long lines

uncomfortable waiting conditions

lack of choice.

The lines in a pantry can routinely be longer than an hour.  The hungry wait in line whether it’s raining, snowing, or if there are broiling summer temperatures. Outside pantry buildings, there is little or no protection from the elements.

The hungry wait in these lines to have access to about 30 different food products.  Compare that number to a trip to your local super market with it’s 10,000 or more items to choose from.

And, finally, if I ever could take the attitude that hungry people must have done something wrong and don’t deserve that kind of food, I remember the time I foolishly asked a child in line in the basement of the Woodstock Reformed Church about Christmas.

Santa doesn’t come to families that stand in the pantry line.

Thanks for reading this blog/book.

The story is true.  The people are real.

Please refer this article to your preferred social media network.

It’s Celebration Time! – Hunger Alleviation Today

It’s been a looong time everyone!  I’m offering an update today because the book is finished and going to press soon.  It’s been months, eons maybe, since I’ve posted on this blog and I’m grateful to be back.  It’s as if I’ve been living in a cave – a writing cave.

When a person purchases a book, the attention put to that purchase may certainly have been less than five minutes, maybe even two minutes.  Writing a book can take years.  This book has been in the making since 2005.  The manuscript has been foremost in my life since 2013.

And, if anything, the issues are more relevant now than they were in 2005.

For the past months I’ve put my full attention to the book because hunger alleviation is extremely important not only to me personally but to our nation in general.

Even if people don’t realize it.

But, yes, hunger alleviation is important because we have many, many people in our country who are not getting enough to eat.

There are many hunger prevention programs working to feed people who otherwise would not have enough to eat.  The holidays are coming.  Please think about sharing what you have with those who have less.

And, now, act on those wonderful thoughts of generosity.  Join the hunger alleviation movement!

Thanks for reading this blog post.  Thank you for your support of the hungry in our nation and around the world.

Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco

 

 

 

 

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

pantry_10441c

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.