Hunger Is Not a Disease

Healing 2: Serving the Hungry with Reiki and an Understanding Heart

The food pantry community included massage therapists, Reiki practitioners and other healers in the line.  At one point, I taught Reiki therapy to volunteers and attuned them to Reiki. Laren was among the students in the volunteer class.

Reiki is health care for the soul.  The pantry could definitely use this jewel!

Reiki changes people’s lives and she was no exception.  For most Reiki practitioners, the change is slow, subtle, gentle.  Some aren’t even aware of anything happening.

I knew Laren’s response to Reiki was exceptional in the first fifteen minutes of the Reiki I class.  She took the Reiki 2 class.  She took the Reiki 3 class.  Several months went by and she took one of my advanced classes.

Well, Laren could have taught that class hands down.  Every subject I brought up was one she had experienced.  Laren went on to become a Reiki Master Teacher and now attunes her own students.

Laren dropped by the pantry monthly and offered Reiki to the building.  I felt the energy shift as she invoked the ChoKuRei, the SeiHeKi, and the HonShaZeShoNen in the pantry room and the hallway.

Laren offered Reiki to the building as people rushed around the hallway, bathroom, and the pantry room, cleaning everything after the pantry closed and before we had to leave the building.  No one paid attention to Laren calling in the symbols as she walked around the rooms.

This was energetic healing at work.

She gave particular attention to the corners of the rooms.  Reiki energy transformed the pantry into a holy space, erasing the toxic fear of hunger so prevalent in the hallway and the pantry room.

The floors, walls, corners, became holy.

Fear of hunger wasn’t the only issue.  Fear of job loss,  illness, and fear for the children were common in the pantry.  Fear was often palpable.

Reiki therapy is a spiritual wand touching those around us who need blessings and healing.

Reiki practitioners know that when the time is right, Reiki takes on a life of its own, offering healing where it’s needed, using energy which passes through the practitioner’s hands.

Using Reiki, we align ourselves with our divine order to extend blessings.

When I am in the grocery line, or the traffic line, or on a sidewalk, or on a massage table, the space becomes holy when I invite Reiki in.

Reiki heals through chakra points located throughout the body.  In a Reiki session, the recipient is reminded who she is.  This self-awareness opens the chakra portals for the person to become who she can be.

The future blends with the present and the past at this moment.  Possibilities open.  This is a miraculous process.

Reiki is a holy ritual.  It’s hard to get too much of this divine energy because Reiki is all-loving and all-giving.  Reiki wisdom guides the practitioner’s hands during a session to the points of divine connection on the body.  Reiki shows us the meaning of life and the teachings understand the sacredness of this process.

Reiki is a jewel not bound by earthly things.

No wonder there are no contraindications to Reiki therapy.

Reiki is a light touch applied to a clothed body.  When offering Reiki therapy, I  often began a session applying this light touch to the crown of my client’s head.

After three or four minutes, I moved my hands to the occipital ridge at the base of the skull.

There, I placed one hand on the base of the skull and the other hand on the back of the neck.  After a few short minutes, I placed my hands on the person’s body, following the lines of the person’s chakras along the spine.

As I placed my hands on the recipient, healing energy traveled up and down the chakras, beginning at the head and ending on the feet.  I felt warmth, tingling.

Sometimes I saw images and color while the recipient lay in a sleeplike state on a healing table.  Whether or not the word “sleeping” was correct, the person was usually not conscious.

Chakras are the communication system of the body.  Chakras share information with one another as they physically, intuitively, energetically, and psychically communicate with one another.

They also talk with chakras in other bodies as well.  There is no limit to how chakras communicate.

The pantry visits themselves were healing because the pantry experience healed.  When shoppers and volunteers healed from the experience, they saw things in new ways.

When this healing happened, it made the person new.

In this new inner life and outer life, the person moved forward in ways impossible before.

Pantry volunteers served shoppers, volunteers, hungry people.

Distributing groceries all those afternoons in the pantry brought forgiveness and healing.

Fresh vegetables, eggs, and Bread Alone bread offered a healing experience with abundance.  As volunteers fed the shoppers, they helped both themselves and each other.  Did you want to be healed?  Healing and feeding were connected.

The pantry was a safe haven for everyone, both volunteers and shoppers.  Healing began and continued as people shared food.  This safe haven was necessary because the unspoken word here was the feeling that we were the wrong people.

Unspoken here was the feeling that one’s status in Woodstock could make things right.  Without the right status, a person would never be acceptable.

Health issues pointed to a need to cope with spiritual challenges.  Healing was on the agenda and getting well was something everyone sought.

In the end, healing was not easy.  Before the trip was over and a person felt healed, she experienced many things:  acceptance, belief, change, connection, forgiveness, laughter, persistence, and transcendence.

For me, this was amazing.  How can a person in a pantry line experience connection?  How can a person in a pantry forgive others?  The path is simply too rocky.

For some, it was giving up anger, drugs, or a lifestyle that changed when the house was in foreclosure.

Giving and receiving food brought everyone a little peace.

The whole experience was hard for people in the line who were unemployed, broken down psyhologically, economically, socially, spiritually, and physically,

As I watched healing in action, I saw patterns.  First came forgiveness which made the healing easier.  For sure, healing was harder when a person held a grudge.

The pantry visits themselves were healing.  The pantry experience healed.  When shoppers and volunteers healed from the experience, they saw things in new ways.  This healing, made the person new.

In this new inner life and outer life the person moved forward in ways impossible before.

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Thurman Greco

 

Healing 1: Serving the Hungry with an Understanding Heart

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.” – Psalm 63:1

“That person lives in Shandaken.  He shouldn’t even be here.”

 

The pantry served shoppers, volunteers, hungry people.  Volunteers fed everyone in the line.  No exceptions.

Distributing groceries brought forgiveness and healing.  Healing was an after thought of forgiveness.

For me, healing required some commitment and thought.  Whether or not this was true, questions always arose:

“Am I ready to be healthy?”

“Can I get well if it’s scary?”

“Can I leave the old me aside if it’s necessary for healing?”

“Why am I going through this?”

“What is the meaning of it all?”

These questions could be painful.  Healing can be hard on everyone.

The pantry line had massage therapists, Reiki practitioners, medical intuitives, and other healers.

As a healer, I know healing happens on several levels in our lives:  physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, mythical.  Both healing and getting well were special challenges because many of the people in the hallway, the pantry room, and out in the parking lot didn’t have health care.

While he had his office, Woodstock had Dr. Longmore.  After his office closed, things were tough for many.  As health care became scarce, everyone became personally involved with the differences between healing and getting well.  For some, this was part of the spiritual journey.

Hunger often went beyond a plate of beans or a jar of peanut butter.  That’s why food is essential to healing.  That’s where homemade soup comes in.

Sharing food in the pantry helped people heal.  Fresh vegetables, eggs, and Bread Alone bread offered a healing experience with abundance.  As we fed the shoppers, we helped ourselves and each other.

In some cases, the shoppers became the volunteers or the volunteers joined the shoppers.  Shoppers came to get food and found they could volunteer.  Volunteering changed them.  As a person distributed groceries, the volunteer made contact with another person and was able to smile.

Pantry experiences coaxed us out of our own problems.  Offering a sense of community gives back so much more.

Do you want to be healed?  Healing and feeding are connected.

Sooner or later, we all get sick.  Finally, we die.

No one escapes.  This truth is harder on hungry people who have no $$$ for health care.

Hungry people are often blamed for their inability to deal with the situation.  It’s as if it’s their fault for being down and out in Woodstock.  If they lived right, they would be healthier, make more $$$ in their jobs.

If critics stopped and thought about how insufficient nutritious food, improper housing, and inadequate or nonexistent healthcare impacts a person, they might feel differently.

What did it matter that there were no jobs in the area and none of those that came open paid over $8.00 an hour?

Because they were down and out, they must be guilty of something.

They were negative thinkers, lacking faith, and basically lazy.  Something.

They were gay, trans, promiscuous, alcoholics.  Something.

They were freeloaders, irresponsible, flaky.  Something.

Healing and getting well are two different things, acting in different ways.  But, whether a person heals, gets well, or both, change happens.

“Do I want to heal?”

“Do I want to be well?”

“What if I come out of this experienced a different person?”

“What if it takes a long time?”

In the midst of this, the pantry offered some normalcy to the shattered lives of hungry people when they took pantry food home to wherever and whatever that was, fixed a meal, and served it to those in the household.

It was supper from the pantry.

Health issues pointed to the spiritual challenges which popped up on the path to the pantry.  Healing was on the agenda.  We all wanted to get well.

People getting well overcome symptoms.  Getting well means doctor’s visits, therapy, pills, creams.  These things were simply not an option for pantry shoppers because there was no money.

Symbolic healing occurred in the hallway on pantry days as shoppers and volunteers discussed their diabetes, PTSD, cancer, allergies.

Working and shopping in the pantry was therapy to volunteers and shoppers.  These hallway conversations were cheaper than the physical and mental health services they had no money for anyway.

These conversations were essential because talking about a health issue promotes healing.  Shared symptoms gave us all support, strength, validity.

Everyone walking through the door to the pantry, whether a shopper or volunteer, was asked to leave the past behind.  This experience was different for everyone.  But, think about it, how can we move forward into our new lives if we never give anything up.

For some, giving up the past means letting go of things lost:  the job, the home, maybe the family, self-esteem, the car, good health, money, insurance, the pet, anger, or drugs.

As the past disappears, the remaining spiritual baggage weighs less and less.  Prejudices become fewer.  Fears diminish.  We heal!

Some things surrendered were physical, some mental, and some emotional.  But, one thing is certain, whatever the category, the experiences all had a spiritual aspect.

Giving and receiving food brought everyone a little peace.

Everyone coming to the pantry heals somehow.  The pantry community supports and approves hungry individuals as they climb back on the road to wellness and something offering normalcy.

Nobody just wakes up one day and says “I think I’ll go down to the local food pantry and volunteer.”  People spending time in pantries all travel down the path.  Healing  has signposts along the way.

Some needed physical healing.  Volunteers occasionally came to the pantry so ill that they were barely able to make it into the building.  When this happened, I stationed them at the Items of Dignity table distributing toilet paper, shampoo, razors.  They offered one roll of toilet paper and one other item to each shopper.

                                 Each week, Deanna slowly walked the two blocks to the pantry and then worked in the hallway a couple of hours while she gathered enough energy to return home.

“Don’t forget your roll of toilet paper, Judith.  We’ve got some hand cream today.  Can you use that or would you prefer tooth paste?”

When Deanna finally couldn’t work in the hallway anymore, Rachel gracefully sat at the Items of Dignity table helping shoppers choose their two items.  Rachel lived in nearby Mt. Tremper.  Her living situation seemed somewhat precarious because every few months she looked for a new place to live.  She lived in her car a couple of times.

Thank you for reading this blog post.  This is the first food pantry article on healing.

Please forward this article with your preferred social media network.  Share it with a friend.

If you are interested in healing, please check out my other blog:  www.reflexologyforthespirit.com.

Thanks again.

Thurman Greco

Woodstock, NY

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Food Pantry Rules

A food pantry is what it is because of three things:

the economic situation at the moment

the volunteers

the people who shop there.

The people come together looking for groceries but often, they want and need far more.

While the coronavirus pandemic rages, the food pantry lines get longer every pantry day because people, families, deal with change they didn’t ask for.

In short, they are rewriting their destiny stories without a road map or instructions.

A number of the people in the pantry, both shoppers and volunteers,  didn’t know about food pantries until circumstances  set up a situation where they suddenly looked around a room and realized where they were.

There is a name for their category – SITUATIONAL POOR.

A person fits into the situational poor category when s/he lands in a situation created by an event such as a hurricane, fire, floor, pandemic, or other disaster which destroys the home, car, job.

Pantries offer much – peace, community, spiritual connection, groceries.  I always think of a food pantry in the basement of a church as a cross between a church service and a busy pizza place.

A food pantry, and those connected with it, are not a program.  They are a community.  As volunteers, all we really do is open the door.  As all the hungry people walk through the door, they undergo a change somehow.

Each person in a pantry, in whatever capacity, has experienced rejection in some way – too young, too old, too crazy, too sick, too poor, not poor enough.

The food pantry experience  does not heal a person, nor does it change the story.

The food pantry experience does not offer therapy.

The food pantry is, instead, a conduit for each person’s own healing.

FOOD PANTRY RULES

Sign your name in the register as you enter the pantry.

Find a place in line.

Do not crowd or block the door to the pantry room.

No more than 2 shoppers are allowed in the pantry at one time.

No more than one new shopper is allowed in the pantry at one time.

Shop for a three-day supply of food for everyone in your household.

Place your selections on the table as you shop.

Respect the restrictions on certain foods.

Finish your shopping in 10 minutes.

Once you begin to bag your groceries, do not continue to shop.

Because the food availability is different each time you shop, it is best to visit the food pantry weekly.

Thank you.

Thurman Greco

P.S.  The rules may be different at the pantry where you shop.  Each food pantry is different.  The space is different.  The times the pantry is open is different.  The management is different.

These  specific rules were used in the food pantry I managed where the people were many, the space small, and the hours few.

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Seniors and Those Who Care for Them

What does this photo have to do with hungry seniors and those who care for them?  A lot, actually.  This photo is a group of seniors  getting food from the Reservoir Food Pantry in Boiceville, New York.

Carolina Gerard, an outreach intern from the National Council for Aging Care forwarded an article to me this week.  It addresses some of the causes, complications, and cures for senior food insecurity.  Can you take a moment to go to http://www.aginginplace.org/the-facts-behind-senior-hunger

I’m sure you will find it interesting and engaging.

Thanks again for reading  this article.  Please share it with your favorite social media network.

 

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

My Story and the 9 Truths I Discovered

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I began my life changing journey fighting  hunger on a cool autumn Thursday in Woodstock, New York in 2005 where I volunteered for the first time at the local food pantry.

I was assigned a shift with Marie Duane.  I drove over to the Woodstock Reformed Church, parked my car  behind the buildling and cautiously walked in.  I had never been to the pantry before.

I entered the empty hallway and found the pantry on the right.   I walked into the room  and there it was:  a small space, actually, about 12′ by 16′.  Each wall supported a set of metal shelving units.  Each unit stood about 6′ high and 3′ deep with 4 shelves.  Most of the shelves were empty.  A few shelves had some food:

cereal

tuna

soup

peanut butter.

There was a little handwritten note in front of each display:

 person:  1 item, family:  1 item.

There may have been other items on shelves but I don’t remember them.

A small table stood in the center of the room.  A metal folding chair was placed in front of each window.

We sat in the chairs, Marie and I, and chatted  as people trickled in.  We discussed the usual:  weather, gardening, knitting, decorating the alter at St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church.

“Hi.  How are you?  Will you please sign your name here?”  Each shopper signed in and noted the number of adults, seniors, and children in the household.  After signing in, the person walked around the room selecting from the cereal, peanut butter, tuna, and soup.  The selected food was placed on the table and bagged to take home, wherever or whatever that was.

On this morning, not blessed with any psychic knowledge,  I was totally unaware of experiences waiting for me in the pantry.  Never in my wildest thoughts did I envision the hall filled with hungry people, the tiny room packed with fresh produce and jammed with shoppers.

Nor did I for 1 moment ponder the push back I would  experience as the number of hungry seeking food grew.  Within a few short years, this 2 dozen single homeless men – mostly Woodstock’s colorful characters – had swelled (due to a tanking economy) to over 300 people weekly.  This number finally approached 500 people weekly before it was all over.

Now, in the autumn of 2015,  our stock market  experiences numerous “corrections”.  I realize I learned some things over the years  which, for me, are ground truths about the pantry.

Feeding the hungry with dignity is the most important thing.

Single homeless men are now far outnumbered by members of  the Struggling Class, households of working people holding down 2 and 3 jobs just to pay the rent and buy the gas to get to work.

The 3 most hot button words in the English language are food, sex, and money. These 3 words are concerned with a person’s core beliefs, emotions, and spiritual attitudes.  Food and money, or the lack thereof, loom large in pantries.

The sidewalks in our communities and cities have become wards of untreated mentally ill people.  In our great nation we don’t hospitalize or otherwise treat many of our mentally ill.  Instead, they  they are incarcerated.

Some of these untreated mentally ill happen to be homeless.  Homeless is not a category of people.  It’s just a situation that happens.  It can happen to anyone.

The 50+ senior population has many who lack enough $$$ for food and are largely a silent group.  The bottom line is this:  When our grandparents don’t get enough to eat, they often get sick.

I’m seeing a whole generation of children who have never been inside a grocery store.

Shoppers at our pantry can get a 3-day supply of food weekly.  Their job is to make it last 7 days.  Many share this food with a pet.  Often, the only thing a person has left from a prosperous past is the dog.

The most difficult thing I see in the pantry is a Korean War vet getting food.  Something I just can’t understand is how a person who  served in a very brutal war, and subsequently spent an adult life working and paying taxes should have to be in a food pantry line in his old age.

Much of the food available to the hungry in food pantries is diverted from its trip to the landfill.

There is absolutely no excuse for anyone in our great nation to go hungry.

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

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Thurman Greco

Let’s Celebrate National Farmer’s Week – August 2 to 9

 

 

CucumbersNational Farmers Market Week begins Sunday.  If you can, please take a moment this week to thank  local farmers  for the great food they provide our communities.  Thank them  also for the  support we see  at food pantries everywhere.

They do this as a project of the recently begun Farm Stand concept, the brainchild of Jan Whitman and Ron VanWarmer.  Jan, Ron, and Carrie Jones Ross worked together to create farm stands in pantries throughout the Hudson Valley where the hungry  shop for fresh produce at a price they can afford:  free.

I visited 2 Farm Stands in Kingston, New York, recently.  One is located at People’s Place and the other at Community Action.  What an event Jan, Ron, and Carrie put together!   Excited, happy shoppers choose from:

tomatoes

potatoes

onions

squashes

greens

grapes

oranges

apples.

By focusing on feeding the struggling class, one person at a time, the hungry are being fed and the lives of thousands are touched.  All  Farm Stand food is donated by farmers.  No local merchant is losing a sale by not seeing  customers in a supermarket line because these people don’t have the income to buy any of the food.

The growing Farm Stand concept offers an opportunity to move the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley into the future at breakneck speed.

In addition to the Farm Stand donations, food pantries throughout our area receive hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh, nutritious, delicious food each year from local farms.  Much of it  is organic.

On the individual pantry front, Migliorelli Farm donates fresh produce weekly to our pantry year round.  Greenleaf Farm Stand donates produce to volunteers who drop by before the pantry opens every Monday.

Prasida and Francine drive the  pantry van to the Regional Food Bank in Latham weekly to pick up fresh produce donated from Hudson Valley Farms.

The Regional Food Bank owns the Patroon Farm which  grows organic vegetables. Their crops all go to the food pantries and soup kitchens throughout our area.

The generosity offered by farmers and local pantry volunteers makes  pantry distribution a reality.  Those who selflessly share their time make our mission a success.  Without the dedication and generosity of our farmers, where would be be?

http://www.ChooseMyPlate.gov

http://www.foodbankofhudsonvalley.org

http://www.regionalfoodbank.new/farm/overview

Thanks for reading this blog.

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Thurman greco

3 Important Things We Can Do To End 50+ Hunger

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“Hunger and income inequality is probably the single biggest issue facing this country”. – Susan Zimet

Ending hunger is a huge task…so big it’s scary, even.  But, it’s okay to be scary.  It’s doable.  And, besides that, anything that’s really important is probably a little scary.  Right?

HOW CAN THIS HAPPEN?

Hunger in general and 50+ Hunger in particular are buried issues.  In other words, unless you’re the one shopping at the pantry, you haven’t got much of a clue.   If you’re  standing in a grocery line with 5 cotton tops,  statistics tell us that 1 of them is struggling for $$$ to get the food s/he needs.

Food insecurity happens with 50+ citizens when the retirement income is insufficient to meet day-to-day needs.

Not all 50+ people are retired.  It’s not unheard of to see  people visiting the pantry, men mostly, who have been fired from jobs they’ve held for many years.  After a worker  crosses the line to being 50+, getting another job is pretty impossible.  So, the challenges are great.   What I saw most of them do is desperately figure out how to get some sort of  aid:  SSI, disability, that will last until the social security kicks in.

I’VE SEEN MY SHARE OF MEN IN THIS STRUGGLE.  Some were successful.  Others just finally got seriously ill and died.  This seems tragic, I know.  But, think about it for a moment.  What else are they going to do when the $$$ is gone and there is no chance of any more $$$ coming in?

One such pantry shoppers came into the basement of the Woodstock Reformed Church angry.  He was one of the angriest men I saw in the pantry the whole time I worked there.  Frightened reality covered his face.

“I’m finished” he said.  “They fired me today!  I’ll never be able to get another job again.  I’m too old!”

I didn’t say a word.  He didn’t look or act as if he was going to hurt anyone and I felt he needed to release some of his anger.  He didn’t try to punch the walls or the other shoppers or the volunteers.  And, since the wait was over an hour, I felt he would quiet down before he finished shopping.

HE WAS CORRECT ABOUT 1 THING.  He was probably not ever going to get a real job again.  I just hoped his unemployment was going to hold out until he could figure out how to get something more permanent:

SSI

Disability

SNAP

It took him a year to calm down.  Every time he came to the pantry, I saw the anger.  We all just left him alone.  It was all we could do for him.

Time passed.

Now, in 2015, I saw him again – calm, maybe at peace with his situation.  He lives in his truck, sort of semi homeless, I suppose.  He has places to bathe, etc.

He’s a talented musician, this man.  He has found places to play and he is looking okay.  What more can we all ask for anyway?

Anyone with income that doesn’t include $$$ for food is, in my book, in crisis..

50+ seniors routinely decide between food and transportation, food and medicine, food and clothing.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

One thing we need to do is understand, really understand, what keeps seniors from getting enough healthy food.  The 50+ population is growing, not shrinking.  we have a continually increasing number of seniors facing

food insecurity

rising food costs

availability of healthy food

shrinking Government funding.

FOOD PANTRY WORKERS DO WHAT THEY CAN.   Volunteers in many cases keep people from dying of hunger on the streets.  But pantries are, with 50+ hunger, a small effort.  Can people seek more important ways to address the problem?  Can we develop some long-term and short-term solutions?

WE NEED TO DO 3 THINGS:

UNDERSTAND WHAT STANDS BETWEEN THE 50+ HUNGRY AND FOOD

EDUCATE THE PUBLIC

HELP THE 50+ POPULATION GET THE FOOD

Educating the public  has its own challenges.  Food is such a hot button issue in our country.  People immediately go into denial.  They want to believe that the shoppers in the pantry lines are all wealthy and drive Maseratis and Corvettes.

Of course, this will never be true.  I’ve been working in the food pantry industry for 10 years and I’ve seen very few free loaders.  And, honestly, the free loaders  I met all had mental issues.

The number of people shopping in in food pantries who don’t  belong is very small.

The number of people who need to shop in food pantries is  large.

The number of 50+ people who need to shop in food pantries but don’t is way too large.

WE NEED TO KEEP THE EDUCATIONAL EFFORT GOING.  That’s why I work in a food pantry, write this blog, and speak about hunger at pretty much any place I’m invited.

Helping the 50+ population get the food is a challenge.   It’s difficult to learn that you worked all your life, paid your taxes,  participated in social security, and now …when you need it…it’s not enough.

What happened to our dream?

Was it ever real?

Did we get bilked?

Were we all just kidding ourselves?

OUR PARENTS AND OUR  GRANDPARENTS WORKED TO BUILD A NATION.    We worked to continue the American Dream.  Now, we find that it doesn’t really exist. For some, the belief is that this dream never did exist.   For many, the most important thing is to just not let anyone know how bad things are for them.

Hunger in the 50+ community today is where being gay was prior to 2000.

If you can talk just one 50+ senior into getting SNAP, you will be doing a wonderful thing.

http://www.feedingamerica.org

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Thurman Greco.

 

 

 

 

Do you ever…? 10 questions to ask hungry friends, relatives, neighbors.

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Do you ever run out of $$$ to buy the food to make a meal?

Do you ever eat less food than you need because you ran out of $$$ to buy the food?

Do you ever eat less food than you need because you can’t get the food?

Do you ever skip meals because you don’t have $$$ for food?

Do you ever skip meals because you can’t get the food?

Do you ever do without fresh/frozen fruits and vegetables because you don’t have $$$ to purchase these products?

Do you ever go to bed hungry?

Do you ever skip meals so that your children will have enough to eat?

Do your children ever eat less than they need because you don’t have enough to eat?

Do your children ever go to bed hungry?

Each week at the pantry, people line up to file through the tiny room in the shed.  Most of them come weekly…as they should.  That’s how they get the most food for the time invested.  They get a 3-day supply of food which must last a week.

They hold their heads high, chat with  neighbors in the line, put on the best face possible.  I see them week after week, trying to get  food they need at the pantry.  I cannot help but have questions.  I need to shift the focus from general to  specific, nothing more.   To me, each person is individual.  Each one has unique  needs.

As an agency of the Food Bank of Northeastern New York and the Hudson Valley, the volunteers of the Reservoir Food Pantry are trained to feed the hungry a 3-day supply of food to include fresh fruits and vegetables, proteins, whole wheat breads, dairy products.  We are extremely proud of the quality of food which we serve to our shoppers.

This 3-day-supply of food includes food for three meals on each of the three days.  Each meal needs to offer 3 of the 5 food groups.

We get this food from the Food Bank.  Grocers, food manufacturers, farmers generously donate it.  For the most part, it’s  diverted from the landfill.

In spite of the landfill diversion, the quality of this food is excellent.  Much of it, especially the fresh fruits and vegetables, is organic.  It is food that all of us who volunteer at the Reservoir Food Pantry are proud to offer.

We serve this food to:

Seniors whose social security is not enough to buy the food they need to eat.

Families whose  children need enough to eat so they can learn at school.

Seriously ill people whose income is focused on paying medical bills with no $$$ left for food.

Homeless people with no kitchens.

People living in food deserts who lack transportation to get to a first line grocery store/super market.

When I see these people each week, I cannot help but see that the numbers grow weekly.   I am always confronted with one final question:

Why, in our United States of America in the 21st century, are over 49,000,000 people not getting enough to eat?

http://www.reservoirfoodpantry.org

http://www.FoodBankofHudsonValley.org

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco

 

 

 

Summertime

Pantry HND 3

“What’s happened?” she asked with concern in her voice.

“What do you mean? ” I replied.

“What happened to the people?”

“Oh, that.  Well, it’s summer.”

What’s happened is that the faces are often different in the pantry in the summer.  When you’re living on the edge, when you’re a member of the Struggling Class, the change of seasons counts for a lot.

People who were too sick to make it to the pantry in cold are now able to make it out.  How they manage to make it through the winter is a question for me.  These shoppers barely get enough to eat as it is.  How do they eat over the winter?  Humans are not bears and don’t hibernate.  What do these disabled do to survive?

And, yet, we have many in this category.

Some can’t make it to the pantry in the winter because their vehicles aren’t winter worthy.  Beyond a certain temperature, the cars  just don’t work.  Then, as spring rolls around, they manage to get them running again to drive to the pantry during the warmer months.

Making it to the pantry in the winter is really difficult for the homeless.  Truthfully, I don’t know how some of these homeless live in  the winter.  How they keep from freezing to death seems to me to be a miracle.

We lose some shoppers also.  In the winter, men visit the pantry regularly because they don’t have work.  Then, as the weather gets warmer, they find jobs and can’t come to the pantry because they’re working when the pantry is open.

We always miss these guys because they are good volunteers and really make a contribution to the pantry during the cold months.

One staple which carries everyone through challenges is peanut butter.  Peanut butter is important to everyone in the Struggling Class.

It is important because it:

can be eaten right out of the jar.

needs no refrigeration.

has a long shelf life.

is not necessary to have teeth in order to eat it.

does not have to be combined with another food in order to be palatable.

is nutritious.

does not usually come in a container requiring a can opener.

is not necessary to cook it.

The only hitch to this whole wonderful story about peanut butter is that most of the time, there is no peanut butter in the food pantry.

The only time we are able to get peanut butter in our pantry is when we are having a peanut butter drive.  It’s been months since we’ve had a decent amount, or any amount, of peanut butter.

Can you help?

There are 2 ways you can come to our rescue:

Our pantry is open Mondays from 2 to 4 in the afternoon.  I’m usually there by 10:00 am.

On Tuesday mornings from 9:00 to 10:00 we are in the pantry packing the take out bags.

If you live/work in the area and want to bring some peanut butter to the pantry, we’re happy to receive it then.

If dropping the peanut butter off at the pantry is not convenient, we’ll be happy to accept your donation and purchase the peanut butter for the pantry.  Please send the check to:  Reservoir Food Pantry, P.O.Box 245, Boiceville, NY 12412.

We thank you in advance for this generosity.  Currently, we serve over 150 households each week.  Everyone needs peanut butter.

Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco

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