Hunger Is Not a Disease

Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program

Food for today, hope for tomorrow.

LOCATED RIGHT IN THE HEART OF BRUNSWICK, MAINE, is a hustling, bustling food pantry/soup kitchen, backpack program, mobile pantry, clothes closet/ furniture distribution center.

It’s easy to find – just go behind Hannaford’s to a group of modern, spacious buildings which were the result of a capital fund campaign about ten years ago.  This pantry is nice enough to be the envy of many pantries I’ve seen.  It was well planned and appears to be well maintained.

ATMOSPHERE – small town busy.  Everyone appears to be grateful  to be there.  The pantry opens at 11:00 on Monday mornings. Wednesday mornings, Friday mornings, and Saturdays.  The soup kitchen is open also so  shoppers can get groceries and a meal at the same time.

SERVICE – Shoppers  visit the pantry twice monthly.  The first pantry week of the month offers each household a banana box of staples.   The second pantry day offers a selection of fresh, refrigerated, and frozen vegetables and dairy products which are distributed by client choice.

SOUND LEVEL – The sound level is deceiving.  There is a lot going on in this building but the noise level is quite low.

FOOD OFFERED – The selection depends quite a bit on the donations but on the day I visited, there were many gorgeous fresh vegetables to choose from:  zucchini, bok choi, lettuce, beets.  There was a small selection of yogurt and a good selection of bottled, refrigerated juices and milk.  Bread was abundantly available in the pantry room itself as well as on a table in the hallway.

HOURS – This pantry opens Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.  Each distribution day is about four hours long.

USUAL WAIT TIME – Although shoppers were outside the building before the pantry opened, the wait time is not long.


TO DONATE TO THIS PANTRY – Send a check to Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program, Inc., 84A Union Street, Brunswick, Maine, 04011.  If you want to make a food donation, the actual location is also 84A Union Street.

PANTRY AFFILIATION – To my knowledge, this pantry is a secular facility.

FINALLY – This pantry/soup kitchen is a lovely facility operated by by over 250 caring staff and volunteers.  This is definitely one operation which  strengthens the entire  community which it serves by feeding those who are the most vulnerable.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco




Kingston has a new Farm Stand!

How long has it been since –

you bit into a juicy, delicious peach?

you ate a gorgeous red apple?

had a piece of homemade apple pie?

had a serving of home cooked beets?

Wait no more!

Fresh fruits and vegetables (picked on Monday), are now distributed  Tuesday mornings in the  parking lot of People’s Place Food Pantry and Thrift Store at the corner of St. James and Broadway  in Kingston, New York.

This is the new paradigm at work!  Anyone can get the food.  Just be there when it opens at 10 on Tuesday mornings.  No questions are asked.  No identification is necessary.  Take this delicious, nutritious food home, prepare it how you want, and eat it.

A new project of the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley,   People’s Place was chosen as the first Farm Stand in Ulster County because

it’s got that generous parking lot,

it’s in a grocery store desert,

it’s in Kingston.

Last week, the first week ever for the Farm Stand, brought 565 people to enjoy  this gorgeous food.  It was, every bit of it, fresh food, grown in our own Hudson Valley.

Our tax dollars at work in the 21st century.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greo


A New Paradigm for the Struggling Class



reformed church“We’ve got to do something.” I said to Guy Oddo one afternoon.

“Yup” he replied.  “The parking lot’s dangerous.  There’s going to be a wreck out there one of these days.”

“Actually, there was.  Someone ran into my car about 2 weeks ago.  Do you have any suggestions?”

“Well, he said, how about we put a volunteer in the parking lot to direct traffic?  And, what if we limit the shopping time in the Pantry?  Can we make some people park in the town lot down the street?”

So, we did all 3 things.  They kept coming.  They needed the food.

As I return in my thoughts to the depths of the autumn of ’08, the  thing I remember most is  the changes brought about by the The Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program people as they introduced  new produce guidelines and called for a 3-day-supply of food for everyone in each household.


My mind moves to the present, as we overcome (hopefully) this depression.  Two things happened for sure:

There are many, many new wealthy people – millionaires, billionaires, kazillionaires whose new money isn’t trickling down yet.  Will it ever?


MANY JOBS WERE LOST, NEVER TO RETURN.   Many people experienced the end of a working life during that time.  The lucky ones were able to get early Social Security.  Not everyone was 62 yet.

One angry man came to our pantry weekly.  He first showed up the day after he was fired.  And, of course, it was one of those situations where we all knew he wasn’t ever going to work again.  It took him over a year to calm down from the injustice of it all.  He was quiet about his anger but anyone with a brain and an eye knew what was happening.

In this case,  I felt close to the event.   I saw him go through stages of adjustment:  shock,





On a national level, a positive change happened, though:   the demise of the Emergency Food Assistance Program.  It’s a food assistance program still, and, actually, nobody has even dropped the word “Emergency”.  But, when I listen to people in my industry talking among themselves, I’m really  aware that everyone seems to know it’s not emergency now and hasn’t been emergency since ’08.

The Struggling Class are hard working singles, families, and seniors who simply lack money for food.    The purchasing power of the hourly wage received at the 2 to 3 jobs we hold continues to decrease while food, housing, transportation, healthcare costs continue to rise.  There is no job security anymore.

I SEE NO IMPROVEMENT FOR THE STRUGGLING CLASS IN THE NEAR FUTURE. This is our new cultural landscape.  It’s our job to navigate this new terrain as positively as possible with new survival skills.

What does this mean?


PWhen we shop at pantries and eat at soup kitchens, we’re reducing our footprint on this planet.

When we shop at pantries we  actively divert food from dumpsters, landfills.

In the new paradigm, we no longer buy  the idea that what we are doing is charity.  It’s not charity.  Charity segregates, stigmatizes, and demeans us.

When we shop at pantries, our tax dollars are at work and we are on the front lines of the movement to develop a cleaner, safer,  future.

Pantries strengthen the whole community by assisting those who are most vulnerable.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco

“Can I volunteer in your pantry tomorrow?”


reformed church“If you’ve seen one homeless person, you’ve seen one homeless person.” – Thurman Greco

“Can I volunteer in your pantry tomorrow?  I know about food and can help you.”  The man standing before me was short and sturdy,  with a gray  pony tail…a typical homeless person if I ever saw one.  He wore secondhand store denim and had not one ounce of extra weight on him.  His boots and backpack were in good condition but definitely not new.

HIS REQUEST REEKED OF HUMBLE.  This man had humble down sooo well.  Humble is important when a person is homeless and mentally together.  The police hassle homeless people so they learn skills to stay out of jail.

A very lose friend of mine, Paul Schmeltzer, once explained  two  important skills a homeless person needs:  the ability to be humble and the ability to remember names and dates flawlessly. Paul could tell me what corner of what city he sat on at 2:15 in the afternoon on the last Friday in August, 2010. “These skills are  necessary for a homeless person because if s/he can’t be humble and remember details, then jail time is  in the near future”.

For those homeless with mental health issues, details like humble, coherency, an exacting memory are extremely challenging.

But, back to the story.

CAN YOU WORK IN MY PANTRY TOMORROW?  How did you know all my volunteers have prior commitments tomorrow?  I got excited!  I’ve fed over 100 people by myself before, many times.  But, volunteers help.  Help is help.  My pay grade is the absolute lowest in town.

“SURE,’ I SAID.   “Love to have you.  When you say you know food, what do you have in mind?”

“I’m a vegan.  I know about produce.  I’ll prep all your fresh food tomorrow.”

Sure, whatever that means.  “Great.  I’ll see you tomorrow.  By the way, my name is Thurman.”

“And, I’m Arlen.  Pleased to meet you, Thurman.”  With that we shook hands and off he went.

The next day, Arlen walked into the pantry just as I finished stuffing two van loads of fresh produce into the tiny room. Pretty well gone was humble.  In its place was a person who obviously knows and loves good quality food.  He went to work.

First, he hauled all the boxes of produce back outside the building to the sidewalk where most of the pantry shoppers would wait to get into the building. Then, he arranged the food.  Just.  So.  He made a workstation for himself as he assembled  a large, black, heavy duty plastic bag for the inedible produce.  A box turned upside down became a prep center, and the produce was neatly placed around him.

Starting with the carrots, he picked up a bunch, carefully removed the tops, then arranged them  for shoppers to select from.

He divided bananas into 3 groups:  rotten bananas to be discarded, bananas to be used for cooking, and those fresh enough to eat raw. And so he  continued until he had prepped, graded, and arranged every fruit and vegetable delivered to the pantry in the vans that day. Arlen examined every leaf, stem,  item in every box.  He discarded the trash, he arranged all edible fruits and vegetables in gorgeous stacks.

Shoppers in the pantry that afternoon went home (to wherever or whatever that was) with perfect produce: no yellow leaves, no soft spots, no bruises, no tops. Everything was ready to prepare…just as if it had been bought in Gracie Balducci’s or Whole Foods.  WOW.

Once, during the pantry food distribution, I quickly went outside the building to check on Arlen…just to see how things were going. “Buenas tardes, Senora.  Cual frutas necessitas hoy?”

What?  I heard Spanish!  Arlen was speaking with a shopper in her native tongue.  By the end of the pantry day, he spoke with shoppers in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Haitian, Italian, Creole. Arlen was entertaining everyone.

I knew I was going to be taken to the woodshed for allowing the food distribution at the entrance to the building but it was such a gift to the shoppers to receive this beautiful food and to speak their native tongues that I figured early on that I would take the anger  and press on.

AND, I DID AND IT WAS WORTH IT.    Every bit of it! Months later, they still hadn’t gotten over Arlen’s visit.

Actually, it was visits.

From that point on, whenever Arlen came to town, he worked in the pantry.  He made us all feel we were special because our pantry was vegetarian.

Each homeless person is a special personality and has a special situation which s/he deals with.

So, how is Arlen homeless?  Well, he moves around a lot and has a selection of friends who host him when he’s in the area.  When Arlen arrives, there’s always a flurry of activity because he participates in all the events.   Arlen assembled tents and kept the grounds clean when we had our first pantry music festival.  .

When Holly Post, his Woodstock hostess, put her house on the market to move to Rosendale, Arlen was upset.  “Holly’s got her house on the market and we’re moving to Rosendale” he said with feeling.  Wherever Holly goes, Arlen is going too.  I’m sure that, although Arlen will miss Woodstock, he and Rosendale will love each other.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco

Reservoir Food Pantry Begins Its Second Year

We’re STILL here!  And, we’re doing better than ever.

Monday was a landmark day at the pantry.  Last Monday, we moved our tables and chairs away from the parking lot of the Wastewater Treatment Plant and set up in our new shed.

WE’RE IN AN ADORABLE RED SHED WHICH IS PERFECT FOR US.   We’re all so excited about this step forward.  Our address is the same.  The clients are the same.  The food is the same.  The only thing that’s different is the building.   We’re distributing food from the building.  We’re now indoors.

We all loved being outdoors last summer and may return there this coming summer.  However, it’ll be nice to be working indoors over the winter.

As I opened the door of the shed, my thoughts were filled with trepidation.  I had no idea what was going to happen or how the shed would be received by volunteers and shoppers.  There was also a real question about whether or not the place would even work or not.

Well, shame on me.  I shouldn’t have bothered.  The whole pantry shift went off without a hitch:

Everyone was able to find the pantry shed even though it’s totally hidden from the road.

We were all able to get into the shed in spite of the step up.  The few shoppers with mobility issues had no problem at all.

I was worried that the food wouldn’t fit.  Well, that was a waste of time.  The shed totally absorbed our entire monthly shipment as if it was just nothing.  We weren’t  the least bit overfull.

Sponsors who brought produce to our pantry had absolutely no problem bringing it to the shed.  We get food from Migliorelli, Bread Alone, Shandaken Gardens, and Huguenot Street Farm every week.  Everyone found us.

And, finally, we didn’t get any complaints about the shed being too small.  It’s not too small.  It’s perfect!

I send a heartfelt message of gratitude to everyone who worked to make this shed a reality.  Bonnie, Sean, and Prasida chose the  building after searching “high and lo” for just the right one.  The board supported our shed with a unanimous vote.  The Town of Olive had no problem with our idea and gave us a permit with no delay.

The only thing we’re missing still is the electricity.  But, that’s coming.  We didn’t need it Monday but we’ll be needing it when it gets colder.

The Reservoir Food Pantry couldn’t be more perfect.  Thank you everyone who has helped make this pantry possible.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco


Charity, What Charity?


“GIVERS GIVE.” – Kim Klein

“Thank you for being so kind.  It really helped to come here.  You made my situation seem a little better” the woman said as she left the pantry yesterday.  We hear words like this every week…every pantry shift.  People are grateful for kind words accompanying a three-day-supply of food.  At the pantry, they hear kind words and then go home (wherever and whatever that is) and put food in an empty refrigerator if they have one.

KIND WORDS ARE EASY.   The most difficult task I’ve encountered in the pantry since 2005 is to teach people that we’re working with a new paradigm.

In the 20th century, our  nation offered government-sponsored welfare programs, and volunteerism.  Private charity extended stopgap efforts and emergency assistance feeding programs to deal with hungry people.

Now, in the early 21st century, welfare reform offers cutbacks and reductions in public assistance programs.  Wages decline.  Housing costs increase.  Corporate’s favorite method for boosting stock prices is to lay off employees and downsize to increase profitability.  While these techniques may increase the Dow Jones Average, they accompany deteriorating economic security and accelerate inequality.  Our hopes for eliminating poverty have been abandoned.

People hold down two and three minimum-wage jobs.  Paychecks cover only rent and transportation.  Food assistance is no longer emergency.  People rely on food pantries and soup kitchens for their food.  For members of the Struggling Class, there is no money for food…not last month, not this month, not next month.

So, this wonderful new industry is developing which recycles food rejected  from grocery stores, food manufacturers, farms.  Food Banks divert food from landfills and distribute it to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters.

THE FALLOUT FROM THIS IS FABULOUS!  Money is being saved on dumpsters, composters, compacters, and landfill fees.  This responsible method of disposing of unwanted excess food also offers us the opportunity to be kinder to our planet as we improve our environment.  Besides, why throw away good food ?

THERE’S ALL THIS FOOD OUT THERE.   There’s enough food for everyone.  Why can’t we just stop the push back and feed the people?  When this happens, our lives (everyone’s lives) will be different.


Pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, halfway houses are our tax dollars at work.  The food effort is mostly manned by volunteers diverting food headed to the landfill.  This recycling effort works to keep people from starving in the streets.

YOU CAN BE COMFORTABLE SHOPPING AT A PANTRY.   Just walk up, ride a bicycle up, or drive up to your neighborhood pantry and shop for the food you need.  Hold your head high, knowing that by shopping at a food pantry, you are helping reduce landfills and you are visiting a facility where your tax dollars are at work.

If you are still uncomfortable shopping at your neighborhood food pantry after a few visits, either try out another pantry or call up the manager and volunteer.  You won’t be hungry anymore.  You’ll meet new friends, get good exercise, and become very knowledgeable of food.  You’ll be doing wonderful things for our planet too.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco


Don’t go Away. I need to talk to you.

“WE ALL KNOW ANGER.    We also know how it kills our inner peace.  And while most of us like the idea of forgiveness, it often seems a difficult thing to practice, especially when the source of our hurt is up close and personal.” – Mike George

“Don’t go away.  I need to talk to you” the man aid in an authoritative voice as he walked toward me in the basement hallway of the Woodstock Reformed Church.

As I heard his voice, the hair on my neck began to stand up.  I had just walked out of the pantry room for a moment.  Stocking shelves in the pantry, I was preparing for the hungry who would be shopping soon.  I’d been putting USDA canned green beans on the third shelf down from the top of a unit by a window.

“GOOD AFTERNOON, SIR.   What can I do for you?”

“Well, for starters you can stop feeding all those people.  Ever since you started working here, more and more people are standing in our halls.  You’re feeding the unworthy hungry and I want it to stop.  Right.  Now.”  he said with emphasis.

The man standing over me in the hall was fat, old, angry.  His toes pointed outward…a sure sign to me he suffered from a backache.  “I’m Ed Jabbs.  I’m head of the building committee for this church and I want to see your files on the people who use this pantry.”

“I’m sorry sir.  We don’t keep many  files on our shoppers.  We keep a journal where we record their names and number of people in each household.  That’s all.”


“Well, you should.  No one should be allowed in the pantry who isn’t on food stamps.  You’re feeding people who shouldn’t be coming here to get this food.  You’re feeding the unworthy hungry.”

“Just last week you gave food to a man who I know shouldn’t be fed.  He’s a writer.  He published a book a couple of years ago and he shouldn’t even be here.  Writers make a lot of money. ”

I’d heard about Ed Jabbs.  He was a story in Woodstock.  He was head of the building committee, was not a pantry supporter, and was definitely not a Thurman Greco supporter.  After all, I reported to the Food Bank, not him.  “This man is definitely a threat to the pantry” was the thought going through my mind as he stood over me.

Forever a mystery, I had heard gossip:  Some church members were afraid of him.  He had once belonged to a church in Saugerties but left after some event when a few members there had had enough.  He was reputed to drive an expensive car with Delaware plates, and lived in Saugerties.

Not a secret:  He very definitely did not like the way the pantry in the church was being managed now.

And, he had grounds.  Before 2008, the pantry served about 25 colorful characters on Thursday mornings and now with the economy in the tank, new hungry people showed up every week.  Lines were getting longer and longer.

The Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program changed our nutritional guidelines to include fresh produce, 1% milk, and whole grain breads.  Before the guidelines changed, shoppers  got a jar of peanut butter, a box of cereal, a can of tuna fish and maybe a can of soup.  Now, they received a 3-day-supply of food for everyone in the household.  Fresh produce lined the walls of the pantry.  Bread Alone sent over bread weekly and pet food was even available.

These changes brought not only hungry people but mountains of cardboard and, according to some church people, vermin.  Some felt we were being overrun with vermin.  No amount of reasoning convinced them of anything different.  It didn’t matter one whit that there was not even one bug or mouse to be found in the pantry.

Meanwhile, here was this angry man staring at me and demanding to see files the State didn’t even require.

“Well, Mr. Jabbs, I can call the Food Bank and find out what files we need.  However, the inspector was here only a few weeks ago, looked at all my paperwork and pronounced everything “excellent”.  We’ve never done anything like this before.  After all, we’re a food pantry…not the police.”

“Check into it NOW”! he said as he turned away, his toes still pointing outward.  Mr. Jabbs turned and smiled at me then, displaying a mouthful of large yellow teeth.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco

What? You’re STILL Here!

Pantry HND 3

Can you believe it?  We’re STILL here!

Reservoir  Food Pantry celebrated its first anniversary yesterday with an open house at our pantry shed behind Robert’s Auction in Boiceville.  Even with the wet weather, we had more guests than I ever imagined would come by!  We celebrated our new shed and now will begin to distribute food from this place beginning Monday afternoon at 2:00.

On September 9, 2013, a band of four people who barely knew each other embarked on an adventure.  By the time we had our open house, we had fed 2810 households composed of 1874 adults, 2315 seniors, and 747 children.


But, wait!  Look at those numbers a bit.  We fed more seniors than we did the adults and children combined.


The 501(c)3 application was a joint effort with Sean putting in about 95% of the work.  This was a successful first project.  We received our approval!

I guided us through the Food Bank process.  We’ve been an agency for several months now and, on July 1, 2014, we became eligible for a HPNAP line of credit offering food for the growing number of hungry shoppers.

Prasida tracked the funds from the very beginning.

Bonnie became the writer for all our activities including taking meeting minutes and writing press releases.

Bonnie, Sean, and Prasida inspected every empty building along Route 28 in the Ashoken Reservoir area.  Many were perfect for our needs except for the rent.  We simply couldn’t afford what they asked.


John Parete is extremely generous with his restaurant.  Most of the people on our homebound list  are fed from stock kept in the “Bodega”.  We have  a freezer and refrigerator there also.  And, (very importantly), no one minds if we bring in food throughout the week.  John always greets us with a smile and is donating the space.  The only flaw in this scenario was that we didn’t ask him sooner.

The Wastewater Treatment Plant people in tandem with the Olive Town Board is supportive.  We drive up to the parking lot on Mondays as if we own the place.  And, for the short time we’re there, we really do own the parking lot.  It’s a squatter’s rights kind of thing.

Beecher Smith is generously sharing his property behind the Robert’s Auction so we can have our sheds.  We simply cannot distribute food from the parking lot through freezing temperatures and snowfalls.


Bread  Alone

Migliorelli Farm

Shandaken Gardens

Huguenot Street Farm

Food Bank of Northeastern New York

Prasida  and Francine  drive up to the Food Bank every Monday morning for food.  We distribute this food as if we’re at the entrance to the Versailles.  As far as I’m concerned, we are at the entrance to the Versailles.

Canned, dried, and boxed goods come from the Food Bank.  Volunteers have food drives at the Boiceville IGA one Saturday every other month.  Monthly food drives are held at the entrance to the Kingston Walmart.  Members of the Wesleyan Church had a food drive for us at Christmas.

Esotec beverages is generous with periodic donations of juices and other beverages.

Food from the Food Bank is recycled.  The produce, dairy, and bread given to us at Latham is all on its way to the landfill when it gets diverted and sent to the Food Bank, then on to  pantries, shelters, half way houses.  The canned goods are diverted at the grocery store from the landfill.  Cans are dented.  Many are outdated.  Some have no labels anymore.

As more people find us, 2015 promises to be more eventful than 2014.    Each week, people walk, ride bicycles, drive cars to get to our  pantry.  It’s time  to   focus on developing systems and procedures given to me by my superiors at the Food Bank.

Most people who shop at our pantry are Resource Poor.  They routinely choose between food and rent, food and medical expenses, food and transportation.  Resource poor are also food insecure.  They lack, at times, enough food for an active, healthy life for the household members.  Food insecurity comes in 2 categories:

Food Insecure

Very Low Food Security

When we talk very low food security, we know some have limited access to grocery stores.  Their food comes from gas station food markets, and convenience stores. I’m not running down gas stations and convenience stores.  But it’s hard to find food that really nourishes there.  Vegetables and fruits are scarce.  When they are available, they’re expensive.  Salt, grease, and sugar are in abundance.  Fat is cheap, available, and filling.

The area surrounding the Reservoir Food Pantry is just such a place.  A person, for example, living in Shokan is miles from the Boiceville IGA.  This trip becomes very challenging if there is no car or other means of transportation.

Lack of transportation in the area  makes for a very strong take out department.  Many  shoppers  are unable to get to us.   We’re seeking volunteers to pack and deliver food to yet more homebound households.

Disaster preparation looms large in our area – whether we’re ready or not.  We’re the strongest pantry in the Reservoir area and may be called upon in the event of a disaster.  The aftermath of  Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy was difficult for this area.  Many lost everything:  home, job, car.

We are all grateful for the sponsorship of the Zen Mountain Monastery without which we would never have even gotten to first base.  The ripple effect of this generosity is traveling far and wide through both space and time.

So…we’re still here.  We hope to be here in the future.  We plan to be here in the future.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco





Food Pantry Blog – Get Your Flu Shot

Flu shots are available in Woodstock now.  Those of us with enough money or with insurance can hike ourselves over to the CVS or Village Apothecary and get “shot”.  I’ve personally been getting flu shots for over 25 years.  And, because of the inoculations or because of the luck of the draw, I haven’t had the flu in years.

Have you gotten your flu shot yet?

When I ask people in Woodstock if they’ve gotten their flu shot yet, many of them respond with an enthusiastic “NO!” and then proudly explain that they don’t do inoculations.

Others, however, explain truthfully that they don’t have the money for such frivolities.  After all, if they don’t even have any money beyond the gas and rent, how are they going to scare up the funds for such things as health insurance or flu shots?

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco


FOOD PANTRY BLOG: They Came Up on Bicycles

RFP-Tent (1)



SHE HAD A BACKPACK.    He had more of a knapsack.  They rode over hesitantly, cautiously, on bicycles.

“Hi” I said in my most inviting tone.  “Welcome to the pantry.  Have you been here before?”  Actually, I knew the answer but wanted to help them feel more at ease.


“COME ON OVER TO THE TABLE.   Sign  in.  All we need is your name and the number of people in your household.  Then, start shopping at the end of the table here and work yourself down the line of food.  Take all the produce you can eat in 3 days.  We’ve got onions, carrots, greens, oranges, tomatoes.  You’ll notice that much of our produce is labeled “organic.”  Take one each of the different canned items.  Take a can of crushed tomatoes,  juice,  green beans,  organic vegetable stock.  Be sure and take some Bread Alone bread.”

They walked over, gently touched the food as if in a museum store.  Quietly, between them, they argued over what they could carry home.  It seemed to them we were offering more than they could get home.

“How did you hear about us?” I asked?  I didn’t expect an answer.  They were too uncomfortable.  “We hope you’ll come every week.  We open every Monday at 2 p.m.  And…don’t forget to tell your friends, relatives, neighbors, enemies.  We’re brand new here and trying to spread the word.”


They finally agreed on what they could carry and headed off home, wherever and whatever that was.

Most people shopping at our pantry can be labeled resource poor.  The resource poor routinely choose between food and other necessities:

food and housing payments,

food and medicine/medical care,

food and transportation,

food and gasoline.

People in the resource poor category are also food insecure.  They lack, at times, enough food for an active, health life for the household members.

According to the Feeding America survey (I participated in this survey, by the way), about 75% of those shopping at pantries are food insecure and 80% of those households have one or more children.

Food insecurity comes in 2 categories:  food insecurity and very low food security, which is a more serious lack of access to food.

When we discuss very low food security, we know that some have limited access to grocery stores.  This means their food comes from gas station food markets, convenience stores, and pharmacy grocery shelves.

Woodstock and Boiceville are such places.  In Woodstock, two very upscale stores sell organic foods:  Sunflower Natural Foods Market and Sunfrost.  Both Sunflower and Sunfrost also offer non organic foods of the fresh, frozen, canned, and bagged variety.

Both claim to offer non GMO foods as well although, for the life of me, I don’t understand how a merchant can claim  such a thing.  Between the two of these stores, Sunflower has more organic produce and food products than Sunfrost.

Woodstock Meats offers products from local farms which, to me, seems to be a more honest label.  No one is ever fooled into thinking s/he is getting organic food when the case is otherwise.

The Bear Cub Market next to the Bearsville Post Office is an upscale market offering what the purveyor considers to be the very best available of whatever it is he sells.  He stocks his shelves with canned, boxed, fresh, refrigerated products.

Both Woodstock Meats and Bear Cub are totally honest about their products.   No one is fooled into believing that something is what it is not.

For those on limited budgets, food is available at the CVS, Cumberland Farms, and Rite Aid Pharmacy in Woodstock.

Olives and the Citgo Station in Shokan out Boiceville way offer foods also.

Olives offers food for humans as well as pets and a small assortment of toys and household items.  Yogurt and cheeses are available in the dairy case.  They also sell deli sandwiches.

The food mart at the Citgo station across the street carries more beer, chips, candy, and olives than Olives.

Two grocery stores are in the area:  Hurley Ridge Market in West Hurley and the Boiceville IGA in Boiceville.  For the person whose transportation is limited , these stores are inaccessible.

After Superstorm Sandy, the Boiceville IGA was closed for a couple of months because it had water damage.

But, back to the couple on the bicycles.  They  shop at the Reservoir Food Pantry often now.  They’re much more comfortable with the experience.  And, their extremely limited budget has been eased a bit by our offerings.

Peace and food for all.

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Thurman Greco