Hunger Is Not a Disease


“Some of the most important relationships we chart, from which our spirits profit the most, are those to which we have the strength to say no.”
-Sylvia Brown

Many people helped write this memoir. The real creators of this book are the wonderful people who shopped at the Good Neighbor Food Pantry week after week after week. These individuals and families offered us all an opportunity to heal and grow. Without you, none of us would have even had a reason to be in the building.

The majority of the events described in this memoir took place in the basement of the Woodstock Reformed Church where the pantry room, the storeroom, and the hallway are located. Thank you, members of the Woodstock Reformed Church, for your generous donation of this space for feeding the hungry.

I’m grateful to everyone at the Food Bank of Northeastern New York and the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley for the support and training they offered as I traveled down this incredible path.

The Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program offered needed guidelines to ensure that people did, indeed, receive the food they needed to live and function in this culture. Thank you for your mandate of a minimum 3-day supply of food for each and every person. Thank you for insisting that pantries offer client choice. Thank you for having policies insisting on fresh produce and frozen foods. Thank you for your commitment to nutritious foods.

I extend my most heartfelt gratitude to everyone in the Woodstock Interfaith Council and the members of the Building Committee of the Woodstock Reformed Church for giving me the strength to continue feeding the hungry at the pantry until I knew in my soul that the pantry was going to be around “for good.”

And, I offer a sincere “thank you” to the residents of Woodstock and elsewhere who showed your support of the mission by sending checks, giving fundraisers, offering verbal support, and donating money to the Sunflower Natural Foods Market every month to honor the pantry. Whenever times were tough, your generosity and support reminded me that feeding the hungry is, indeed, the right thing to do.

Thank you Richard Spool, Rich Allen, and Guy Oddo for putting Miriam’s Well together. Thank you to Prasida Kay for making all those trips in Miriam’s Well. Those were wonderful, beautiful, delicious days that I’ll never forget.
All of our pantry volunteers, over the years, offered me much spiritual growth. A special thanks goes out to each and every one of you. All of you gave 110%.

Thanks goes to Barry, who stuck by me with very few complaints.

He went to the dump weekly in addition to the trips made in Vanessa by myself and the other volunteers.
He went to Hurley Ridge Market for produce every Tuesday morning and brought six to ten boxes of beautiful produce, bread, and pastries to the pantry.

He helped stock shelves when the Anderson crew was unavailable. He drove me to Latham weekly for many months on Fridays and helped load the 1000 or so pounds of canned/boxed goods which I ordered on the Wednesday before.
He occasionally participated in the monthly food caravan, helping to bring the food over from Kingston.
He made sure Vanessa always had gas, regular oil changes, inspections, needed repairs, etc. He never once complained about these maintenance costs.

He was a strong fan of my efforts. However, his support was definitely not 100%. At one point he told me that my job was impossible. “Not even a Marine Drill Sergeant would take on the job of coordinator at the Good Neighbor Food Pantry.” He said once with feeling.

He finally put an offer on the table: The day I walked off the job, he would finance a 90-day trip, wherever I wanted to go.

“Take the Prius and go. Go see the kids. Go to Florida. Go anywhere you want. Anywhere. Ditch the phone so they can’t call you.”

I chose this book instead. What a wonderful gift!

He was also strongly against a public meeting with the pantry denigrators. He felt I shouldn’t participate in the planned spectacle. Once he extracted a promise from me that I wouldn’t meet with them, he prepared a special treat for me of homemade cream puffs. (My favorite – totally made from scratch.) They were delicious!

I took some of them to a board meeting and offered them to all the board members. They devoured every one.

Life does have its little humorous moments. Right?