Hunger Is Not a Disease

Why I work in a pantry…even after all these years.

RT 28 at Boiceville
“This is perfect weather for a flood” she said casually. “It’s good to see the county out cleaning the ditches by the roads. We need to be ready.”
As I write this post, my mind travels back in time to the 1st pantry day after both Hurricane Irene and Super Storm Sandy. I managed a pantry in Woodstock, NY then. What pantry days they were! People came in looking for anything and everything they could find. They were upset, scared, coping with loss. Many had lost everything – car, house, job. They didn’t know where to turn.

Sadly, neither did I. As they filed in the pantry room, they asked questions that I couldn’t answer. So…I referred them to Family of Woodstock down the street. I simply didn’t know what else to do.

So, now I fast forward to the present where I manage a pantry in Boiceville, NY. Residents here are still recovering from Irene and Sandy. At this pantry, I see some of the same people I saw in Woodstock. Recovery is slow.

Reservoir Food Pantry volunteers work to assure that quality food is available for the many individuals and families in Ulster County. They struggle with food insecurity, homelessness, and underemployment. About 40% of our clients are transportation challenged and we deliver food to them.

Hunger comes in several categories in our area:
elderly poor
employed poor
ill poor
infant poor
generational poor
persistent poor
resource poor
situational poor
struggling poor

Regularly, without even a second thought, volunteers at our pantry located in the Ashokan Reservoir area of Upstate New York, work hand-in-glove with UlsterCorp volunteers, Rondout Valley Growers’ Association. Together, they make an an ongoing effort to provide enough food for those struggling daily with hunger.

Now, in 2015, area pantries are working to be a cohesive group with food storage and safety procedures known by everyone. We know, even if no one else does, how much the area hungry and homeless need the food. Hunger alleviation cannot be effectively carried out in a vacuum.

Our success depends on long term commitment and collaboration. We need to be able to escalate services when needed. Volunteers in our group are here for the time and effort necessary to fight hunger and homelessness in our area.
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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco

This Winter in the Pantry

RFP-Tent (1)

January, 2015,  is turning out to be such a marvelous time  in the pantry!  I just couldn’t let it go by without thanking you for all the support and contributions you made  as we began our project.

On September 9, 2013, as we began work to make the Reservoir Food Pantry a reality, none of us (Bonnie, Sean, Prasida, and I) had a clue about the real needs of people in the area.  Working in the pantry this month I’m coming to realize existentially what is really happening there.

Take our monthly delivery day for example.  January 12th  was dismal.  Nobody in his/her right mind would venture out of either house or home if it weren’t absolutely necessary.  Both volunteers and shoppers who could get out of their homes  proved  how valuable this little pantry in a shed has become.

Volunteers who could get out of their houses drove on icy roads to Kingston to pick up our monthly food shipment.  We loaded the food onto 4 vehicles, drove  it to the pantry, unloaded it and shelved it.

Meanwhile, Prasida and Francine drove to Latham and returned with 1300 pounds of beautiful produce.

All  this work was done during an icy rain, in unheated buildings, and on snow covered ground.

That was one level of motivation.  And, why not?  After all, we’re the volunteers…that’s what we’re expected to do.

Shoppers came to the pantry  as if the sun were out, the grounds were dry, and the breezes warm.  They stood in line outside the pantry and patiently, cheerfully waited for their turn to shop in the tiny little shed to get badly needed food for their households/families.

Oh me of little faith.  Shame on me.  Until delivery day I really didn’t know how the people in the reservoir area really felt about our pantry.

Well…as people tell me all the time “Now I know”.

I walk more confidently now.

Hunger as we know it in our country is both infuriating and shameful.  To fight this scourge…

We need schools that work.

We need communities that work.

We need support systems which offer people caught in poverty a fair chance to succeed.

Although safety nets in our society are almost gone, food pantries are flourishing in communities all over America.  Food pantries cannot fight poverty.  They can only alleviate hunger…a vitally important task in our community.

We looked everywhere along Route 28 for a home for the Reservoir Food Pantry. We finally created a jewel behind Robert’s Auction.

So, to everyone in the area…thank you.  With your support, the Reservoir Food Pantry is a success today.  We could never have done it without you.

Thank you for reading this blog/book.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco