Hunger Is Not a Disease


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.

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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.


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

Think Globally – Act Locally at the Food Pantry

“It doesn’t solve the problem” she said.  “We should be solving the problem.”

WE WERE STANDING IN THE HALLWAY OF THE PANTRY.   Hungry people  jammed the place.    Even with the heat turned off,  it  was  warm, just from the body heat of the crowd.  Someone had invited her over in hopes she’d see the people and be motivated to write a generous check to the pantry.

THE WHOLE SCHEME BACKFIRED.   “There was an ad in the paper on Sunday” she said.  “These people should all be out applying for jobs.”

Yeah.  Right.  We’ll all line up and apply for the job you saw listed,  I thought.  Besides that, many  of these people have jobs.  Some of them have more than one job.

“Well, I can see your point,” I replied.  Certainly, on some levels, a pantry does not solve the problem.  However, there are many problems to be solved when we talk hunger.  “Pantries do solve some of the problems.”

Take, for example, the problem of food waste and landfills.

We need to all understand where the food  fed to people in pantries, soup kitchens, and shelters comes from.  It’s mostly diverted from the landfill.  This diversion can reduce the waste stream, thus saving much money on local, state, and national levels.  Currently, the amount of food discarded annually amounts to hundreds of billions of dollars according to the recent Feeding America survey.

FOOD  SERVED IN OUR PANTRY IS DONATED FROM GROCERY STORES, FARMS, FOOD MANUFACTURERS.  It’s delicious, nutritious, beautiful, mostly organic produce which should never have gone  to the landfill to begin with.

For the most part, pantry and soup kitchen workers are volunteers doing a necessary job for no money.  This is our tax dollars at work.

THE FOOD IS AVAILABLE.  The people are hungry.  When  people shop at a pantry, they may save money which they can later circulate in the community.

Even though many elected officials are very much against SNAP, the funds spent with this program go directly into the community.  This is a financial boost that every town, hamlet, and city can use.

WE ARE A NATION WITH FEW PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION OPTIONS.  Our country’s oil industry has powerful lobbyists  who leverage enough influence so their clients pay no taxes.

To feed the poor of our nation with surplus food offers them the opportunity to put more gas in their cars and get to more of the low-wage jobs they hold down.  The trend is toward a person working 2 or 3 jobs.  If we are too rough on the poverty stricken struggling people,  they won’t be able to get to their jobs and then where will we all be?

We need more pantries to make  more food more available.  We need pantries in schools, churches, synagogues, town halls, hospitals, anywhere people congregate.


Peace and food for all.

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Thurman Greco




The Wednesday Afternoon Farm Festival in Woodstock

In typical Woodstock fashion, the town fought over the farm festival for years before it finally happened.
FIGHTS LIKE THIS HAPPEN IN WOODSTOCK ALL THE TIME.   Every community improvement takes years of fighting before it becomes a reality. And, while this entertains many people, it holds up progress.
Those years of fighting represented  lost revenue for a town that really doesn’t have a lot of options for income.
Oh well, I’m getting off track here.
But, not how you might think. Symbolism is important here. As people go down the path toward the pantry, they begin to lose their connection to the community. This happens mainly because they have no money to participate in  activities and they’re depressed, embarrassed, sad about being broke, sick, out of a job, going through foreclosure, etc. You put in the words here.
Every situation is different, but the process is the same for the people going down the path.
So, the pantry shoppers, for the most part, didn’t have the money to participate in the farm festival.
MIGLIORELLI FARMS OFFERED A SMALL MIRACLE AT THE END OF EACH MARKET AFTERNOON.   Several volunteers from the Good Neighbor Food Pantry were allowed on the grounds in the final few minutes of the market to load up a car with some of the veggies. We then took them back to the pantry and stacked them to distribute on Thursday.
WHAT A GIFT! Migliorelli Farms offered a real emotional boost to our many shoppers as well as delicious, nutritious food. Migliorelli  fed the body as well as the soul.
Now, the shoppers at least had a small connection to the farm market festival.
Until…one day a member of the Farmers Market Board of Directors called me up and pulled the plug. “You can’t have any more of the produce Thurman. People are not shopping at the market because they’re waiting until Thursday to come to the pantry to get the food free.”
“HOW CAN THIS BE? The pantry shoppers don’t have the money to shop at the farm festival. Have you seen the people who shop at the pantry?” I was shocked to hear such words from a person who had never set foot in our pantry.
“Don’t even try to talk me out of this Thurman. Our Board voted on this. The Migliorelli food will be donated to an agency in Kingston. It will not be wasted. You will not get any more of the Migliorelli produce.” And, with that, she hung up.
I was stunned. I felt as if someone had hit me.
AND, IT WASN’T THE FOOD THAT DID IT.   Our pantry was going to continue to have enough food. The Food Bank offered beautiful, fresh, organic produce every week, all year around. All we had to do was go up and get it. And, go get it we would. Our pantry commitment to fresh produce was serious.
The pantry shoppers, many of whom had absolutely no money at all were being denied participation in a local event that anyone could get in to…all it took was money.
Then, somehow, I’ll never know how, a miracle occurred. Someone (some people) spoke to someone (some people) and attitudes were adjusted.
I never knew how this happened. And, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that some person (people) fought for the pantry. And, they didn’t care whether anyone else knew what they did.  They just wanted the produce to stay in our community.  They just did whatever was necessary to get the food to the hungry.  Rules were changed.  Votes were changed.


Whoever brought about this change created a positive energy ripple effect.

Whoever brought about this change definitely made me realize that all is not lost in this world.

In spite of this, I never felt comfortable with the farm market food again.  I felt each Wednesday’s gift from Migliorelli’s Farms might be the last.  I held my breath as Guy drove the van over for the produce.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw it return with fresh produce.

When the farmers’ market returned the next spring, I waited (quietly apprehensive) to hear words from Rick:  “Thurman, Migliorelli is going to share its produce with the pantry this summer”.

Even as I heard those words, I didn’t believe them until I actually saw the produce.  I always had a well formed Plan B ready in case we had to start making extra trips to Albany on Thursday morning.  The need for fresh produce for our shoppers was great.

For the most part, these people were all in the process of losing so much.  It was up to me to keep Thursday produce on the agenda at the pantry.

At the Reservoir Food Pantry, we are extremely proud to have Migliorelli Farms sponsor us.  Our shoppers have beautiful, fresh Migliorelli vegetables every week .  What a beautiful gift!

Thank you.  From the bottom of my heart.


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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco




Inspections in the Good Neighbor Food Pantry in Woodstock

“As I finish writing about this unpleasant part of my life, I tell myself that was then, and there is now, and the years between now and then, and the then and now are one.”-Lillian Hellman

As the coordinator of a Food Bank pantry, I was trained by, supervised by, evaluated by, and inspected by the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley.


A STAGE ONE INSPECTION   was  pre-arranged by either the Food Bank or myself.  The representative from the Food Bank showed up at the appointed time, carried a clip board with a form which was filled out. After the inspection, we all signed the paperwork, made small talk and the person left.

The questions dealt with the food on the shelves, how clean the room was, how far the shelves were from the walls. The Good Neighbor Food Pantry never passed this 6″ limit but no one ever said anything. The pantry room was simply too small.


“Thurman, how are you doing? I’m calling because we’ve received a complaint.  Someone called and reported  a shopper  standing outside the pantry crying. What happened?”

“I don’t know.  I’ll  get back with you as soon as I can find out?”

“When do you think we’ll hear from you?”

“As soon as possible. I’ll ask some volunteers and  get a handle on the situation. Thanks for calling.”

At a Stage Three inspection, someone called, wrote, or visited the Food Bank with enough venom, concern, clout (you choose the word) to cause a person to get up from his/her desk, go out to the parking lot and drive to Woodstock to inspect the situation in person on the same day.

MY FIRST STAGE THREE INSPECTION WAS THE RESULT OF A PHONE COMPLAINT, I THINK.   I never knew for sure. Things were urgent enough that a USDA inspector came out from Albany in a State of New York car. He was a handsome young African American  man (in his 40’s) wearing  a white shirt and conservative necktie. The minute he walked in the door, I knew something was up. After all, who ever comes to the pantry in Woodstock wearing a shirt and necktie?

When he left two hours later, he knew “what color my skivvies were” as my grandmother used to say. He went over inch of the pantry, asked a million questions and took a kazillion notes. This man not only found out everything there was to know about the pantry, he realized early on that I was a brand new coordinator.

HE BECAME A WONDERFUL TEACHER AND I LEARNED A LOT ABOUT HOW TO MANAGE A PANTRY FROM HIM.   I asked him a million questions back and also took a kazillion notes. When he left, I felt I had a friend and the knowledge I gained gave me confidence  in my performance. Needless to say, my score was wonderful.

When  in Albany the next week, I told one of the Food Bank employees about my   recent inspection. Her face blanched as I talked.  This gentle, well mannered, kind young man was the nastiest inspector on the circuit. He was only sent out when someone was really messing things up and needed to be “taken to the woodshed.”

A NOTE TO WHOMEVER COMPLAINED THAT DAY:   the inspection was thorough, fair.   I passed with flying colors.  Thanks!

One important thing I learned from him: It’s not necessary to ask shoppers for identification. No one is required to show anything to get food. The people do need, however, to share their names, the number of people in the household and how many seniors, adults, and children are in the household.


As he left, he had one suggestion:  get office space in the pantry.  He and I both knew that it  wasn’t going to happen. The building committee finally allowed me to  store records but I couldn’t use any space as an office.


AFTER I FINAGLED STOREROOM SPACE, I REQUESTED AN INSPECTION.   I wanted to avoid a confrontation further down the road if the room didn’t meet  Food Bank standards. We passed that inspection.


ONCE WE BEGAN OUR TAKE OUTS, A FOOD BANK INSPECTOR CAME OUT AND SPENT ABOUT TWO HOURS WITH PEGGY JOHNSON.   She answered all Peggy’s questions, got a very clear understanding of what Peggy was doing, how she was doing it, and who was receiving the food. When she left, Peggy was confident in her role of Take Out Manager for the pantry.

WHEN MIRIAM’S WELL WAS ON THE ROAD, WE HAD AN INSPECTION UNDER THE TREE AT ST. GREGORY’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH.   No one was ever more excited about that inspection than I. We were  proud of Miriam’s Well and how the shoppers were responding to the experience.

WE HAD ONE DISTURBING STAGE THREE INSPECTION.   I pulled into the parking lot one pantry day afternoon to find a Food Bank representative  waiting for me.

“Thurman, we’ve received some serious complaints about a volunteer stuffing her vehicle with food while hungry people are lined up and waiting to receive their food at the Mass Food Distributions. What is the story here? Is this a fair distribution of food?”

“I’ll look into it immediately.”

OVERALL, OUR INSPECTIONS WERE POSITIVE.   The only negative one was the inspection in the parking lot of the food pantry.

Peace and food for all.

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Thurman Greco

Bread Alone, the Women of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation, and the Food Pantry

bread alone

The women volunteers of the Woodstock Jewish Congregation went out to the Bread Alone Bakery in Boiceville and returned with bread each week when it was their tour in the pantry.  After the third tour, Neshama, a volunteer, came up to me quietly.

“Thurman, our tour is finished here next week.  If you’ll send a car out each Wednesday, you can continue to get this bread.  Show up at Boiceville at 4:45 and you’ll get everything you need.”  With that statement, Neshama melted into the background.  I never even got to really properly thank her for this gift.  What a Mitzvah!’

I called Ann King.  “Hey Ann, can you help me out here?  You’re connected with Bread Alone.  Can you go out and get bread for us on Wednesdays?”

“Of course, I love to.  When do you want me to start?  I’ll call out there and get the ball rolling.”  To me, Ann King is the single most connected person in Woodstock.

After that, every Wednesday, Ann went out to Bread Alone in Boiceville with Prasida and returned with Vanessa totally packed with bread.  The haul included baguettes, sliced loaves in plastic bags, enormous loaves sold by weight in the stores, small specialty rolls, ciabattas, French loaves, sourdough loaves, sesame loaves, multi-grained loaves.  One week we did a cost analysis and the conservative total retail value of this weekly donation was $900.  The annual total value of this donation came to over $43,000.

Thank you to everyone at Bread Alone for your generosity.  Although I don’t know how many pantries exactly that Bread Alone donates bread to, my bet is that the number is large.  My feeling is that this bakery feeds the hungry in the whole area.


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Peace and food for all.



Thurman Greco



Abundance in the Food Pantry

Surrounded by abundance, poor people had trouble buying food that really nourished them. Fat was cheap and filling, vegetables were complicated and scarce, so salt, grease, and sugar reigned.” – Sara Miles

FOR ME, PANTRIES ARE ALL ABOUT ABUNDANCE. Abundance and gratitude. Churches see pantries as an outreach project. And, of course, outreach is a popular term.

Many congregations love to support feeding the hungry – especially if the funds go to feed a group of children in Botswana, Somalia, India. The farther away the better, it seems. It’s when the outreach is local that things get a little dicey.

FEEDING THE HUNGRY IN A FOOD PANTRY IS AN ACT OF GRATITUDE. When we feed people, we own up to the amazing abundance in and around us. We also face the fact that we are spiritually hungry. Feeding the hungry in a food pantry addresses this spiritual hunger issue head on. It also addresses the physical issue. Pantry shoppers and volunteers are both surrounded by abundance. There are millions of pounds of food available to pantries and soup kitchens throughout our fair land, all of it diverted from a landfill. There is absolutely no reason, no excuse, for anyone in the good old U S of A to go hungry.

Based on my experience in a food pantry since 2005, it’s my opinion that people having trouble with the spiritual issues begin to question who should get food and who shouldn’t get food. For some, feeding the “unworthy hungry” meant we were feeding freeloaders. But not all hungry people look needy. Some of the best dressed people in Woodstock never spend a dime on their clothes. For one thing, they have no money for clothes. For another, they shop in the free store closet at Family of Woodstock.

THE PANTRY HAD THREE SHOPPERS WHO ESPECIALLY DIDN’T LOOK THE PART. They were young women, with children, who drove late model SUVs. I don’t know if they knew each other but their stories were similar. Two of them had been married to men with influential employment and money. Neither one of them received one dime from the husband in the separation process.

The younger one had one son and couldn’t work because her husband seriously injured her when he threw her against a wall. Her recovery was slow. She always came with her eight-year-old son. I got the feeling they went everywhere together.
I noticed right away that she chose items from shelves where bending was not necessary. That left out many items but she wanted to be as independent as possible.

Another woman, Elizabeth, was a little older. She had a house full of children including a set of twins. She just couldn’t get it together to work. And, I doubt if she could have gotten employment in our area anyway. This lovely lady had a Ph.D. There weren’t many jobs available in her career field. And, of course, once a woman gets an advanced degree, the lower level jobs are just not open to her unless she hides the education. Sometimes education can be hidden. Sometimes it can’t. It all depends on the situation. The main thing is to get rid of it on the resume.

Elizabeth was very open minded about the food she selected. With five children, she basically took anything that wasn’t tied down. She qualified for cases of USDA. So, Elizabeth left the pantry with a case of pasta sauce, canned corn, green beans, vegetarian beans, refries, etc. Her kids ate everything. When she finished shopping, Robert Allen, our youngest volunteer, always brought out the cart to put her groceries on and wheeled them to her car.

The third person was in a slightly different situation. She was a volunteer in our pantry with a degree, a house, two adorable daughters, and a spouse with a job somewhere in Europe. The spouse decided he wanted nothing more to do with either her or the children. No money was coming across the ocean for her and the two children.

Laura was very happy to take the vegetarian items available each week. Her children loved fresh vegetables so there was much to choose from. Laura’s girls also looked forward to yogurt as a treat.

SO…HERE WE HAVE THREE FAMILIES with no money for food, (or much of anything else for that matter.)
So…here we have three households, single-headed households in need of food. If not for a couple of years, then at least for several months.
So…where were the fathers in all this? Not paying the child support, that’s for sure.

NONE OF THESE HOUSEHOLDS IS HOMELESS ALTHOUGH they might be when the tax collector comes to call.
None of these households is in rags although they might be when the clothes wear out.
None of these households is without transportation although they might be when/if the vehicle needs expensive repairs.
None of these household members look the part.


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Peace and food for all.
Thurman Greco

“You Just Decided to Come to New York City, Didn’t You?”

<“Now is the time to heal.” – Father John
Father John came up to me in Maria’s one day in July, 2013. “I need food Thurman. We’ve got some Native Americans coming in next week for a Unity Ride and we’ve got everything but the food.”
Well, he came to the right place. For sure, the only thing the pantry has is food.
“What’s the deal, Father John?”
“The Unity Riders are coming through here. The Dakota Nation representatives from Manitoba, Canada came together with the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign to partner between the Onondaga Nation and Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation. They’re coming with horses, riders, truckers, everything. Woodstock is going to be their base camp here while they make side trips to the United Nations, Washington, D.C., and several other places.”
“How many people are we looking at?”
“I think about twelve. But I won’t know until they get here.”
“Do you have anyone to cook the food?”
“Yeah. We’ve got a place for them to stay and we’ve got a chef.”
So, we got to work. Rich Allen figured out how much food they needed and we placed an order. We got in Miriam’s Well, Rich, Prasida and I, and drove up to the Food Bank and got it. We brought it in. At the moment we pulled up, Father John and his team with Chief Gus High Eagle of the Western Dakota Nation came in: men, women, children, horses, trucks pulling horse trailers.
Everyone was impressed with the men and the horses. And, they were a beautiful sight. Only, I also saw that the horses were really tired and so were the men. Both horses and men appeared to be drained spiritually and physically exhausted. This had been a very challenging spiritual ride.
The horses experienced much stress on this trip and would continue to experience the stress because they were the messengers of this momentous journey.
Father John and his team made a base camp at the Woodstock Riding Club. They transformed a barn into a commissary with freezers, refrigerators, and shelves to store dry goods. They built a teepee and two fire pits.
I was grateful to be a part of a pantry with a mission statement open enough to allow us to serve these people.
They traveled on this ride with a unifying message: to honor the bond that exists between all living creatures sharing this planet. The goal is to support one another, heal relationships between people, heal relationships between people and living things, to appreciate the beauty of our planet, and to create an environment where we can live in peace.
While in our area, the Unity Riders made side trips to Albany, Troy, Rosendale, Kingston, Beacon, and Poughkeepsie.
The first city to welcome the riders was Syracuse. Patrice Chang organized a ceremony at Dunbar House, one of the locations of the Underground Railroad.
They also visited  Connecticut. While there, the Unity Riders met with families of those killed in the school massacre. The Dakotas understood the grief of the school members, testifying to reconciliation. They came with traditional prayer ties used to honor the dead. Children of the Dakota, Lakota, and Red Lake Tribes made these prayer ties in Minnesota for the surviving school children of the school massacre in Connecticut. They presented them to the children and then took the ties, attached to the horses’ bridles, on the Unity Ride to the U.N. The Native Americans brought prayer ties so riders could carry the spirits of the massacred children with them on their ride. The horses were the messengers here.  When  the ride was completed in August, the ties were returned and now adorn a large horse sculpture at the Second Connecticut Horse Garden. Several of these special ties were gifted to families surviving the massacre at a ceremony.
One destination on the trip included the riders travelling across the “Walkway Over the Hudson” between Highland and Poughkeepsie. Supporters in boats paddled along the Hudson River beneath.
The Two Row Wampum Renewal Canoe Campaign is a partnership between the Onandaga Nation and Neighbors of the Onandaga Nation.
This group assembled over two hundred kayaks, canoes, boats, and began rowing down the Hudson at Troy. Led by Hickory Edwards of the Onandaga Nation, this group timed their trip so they were coming down the Hudson as the Unity Riders crossed the the Walkway with the Two Row Wampum Renewal Canoe Campaign flotilla floating down the Hudson in two rows. One row was made up of and led by Native Americans. The other row was composed of Americans from all other backgrounds.
As they crossed each other at the walkway, a huge crowd assembled for this event which nearly didn’t happen.
This is the story: Father John tried everywhere to get permission to cross on the Walkway Over the Hudson without success. Success came from a park ranger, Steven Oaks, who issued the permit. Ranger Oaks saw no reason for denying the permit. The fact that his great-great-great grandmother’s life was saved by the Dakotas helped a little, I think.
Another stop was at the United Nations on August 9 for the presentation of the International Code for Sacred Sites.
This day began with the Dakota Nation Unity Riders trucking their horses and themselves to the city. The first stop was on 59th Street in front of the Con Ed building where the trailers parked for a short time while they rendezvoused again with the Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign on the shore of the Hudson.
After this short side trip, the Unity Riders began their NYC trek to the U.N. with special tour guides: three members of the Federation of Black Cowboys, under the direction of Curley. What amounted to an impromptu parade traveled down Third Avenue led by three black cowboys in full ceremonial dress. The second vehicle was a white Prius with Stephanie Smith inside. Thirty Dakota Nation Unity Riders on horses with all men and horses in full ceremonial dress followed.
“As they travelled down Third Avenue headed for the U.N., people stopped, traffic stopped. The entire procession took on an unreal, vision quality.” recalled Father John.
The delegation arrived at the U.N. and stayed there for six hours. Someone from the U.N. arranged for the Unity Riders and their horses to spend the day at Dag Hammarskjold Park and in front of Trump Tower.
“There was only one slight catch.” Father John related. “No permits had been applied for. Everything was a surprise in the city.” No one seemed to care.
These Dakota Nation Unity Riders came to the U.N. on a mission. They journeyed several thousand miles to unite forces for a point in time at this momentous event to bring people together to heal. This event created groundwork for things to happen in the future.
Another Unity Ride is scheduled for the fall of 2015. The main focus of this event is to strengthen the healing which began in August of 2013. Much of the activity will take place at the Connecticut State Fairgrounds and many Nations will be participating. This promises to be a true International healing peace event which never could have happened without the energy generated at the first August event in 2013.
Other rides are scheduled to occur between now and 2015. Different tribes are conducting rides throughout the seasons. To learn more, or to offer support through a donation, contact the American Indian Institute at If you prefer, you may send a check to American Indian Institute, 502 West Mendenhall Street, Bozeman, MT 59715. Please put “Dakota Unity Ride” in the memo portion of your check.
Thank you Father John, for thinking of us. You allowed us to be a part of this historic event. And, thank you dear blog reader, for participating in this event by reading this post. Your energy, everyone’s energy is vital to the success of this endeavor.
Peace and food for all.
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Thurman Greco


In The Hallway at the Good Neighbor Food Pantry in Woodstock

One very cold winter Wednesday afternoon, we had a hallway full of hungry people waiting to get into the pantry. Inside the building wasn’t much better than outside and the outside was below freezing.
Prasida was checking in a man who wore only a sweatshirt. “It’s awfully cold in here today for just a sweatshirt”.
“I know” he replied quietly. “I gave my wife the coat.”
One Thursday morning I was in the pantry minding my own business when I noticed a man in the hallway who didn’t appear to be a shopper. The moment I saw him, I sensed that trouble had entered our pantry door.
“Hello. How can I help you?”
“I’m Ed Jabbs. I’m the head of the building committee and I want to see your files on the people who come to use this pantry.”
“I’m sorry sir, we don’t keep many files on our shoppers. We have a journal where we record their names and the number of people in each household. That’s all.”
“Well, you should. No one should be allowed in here 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.”
“I’ll have to call the Food Bank about getting that kind of information. I don’t have the forms and we’ve never done anything like that before. After all, we’re a Food Pantry, not the police.”
“Well, check into it NOW,” he said as he walked away. Mr. Jabbs smiled then, displaying a mouthful of large yellow teeth.
Although he was a regular shopper at the pantry, coming to shop every week, I considered him to be a volunteer. It was always a pleasure to see him. He had a lot of brown hair that was going grey, wore tortoise shell glasses and he sported a beard. He was intelligent, articulate, respectful, and always brought the latest copy of the newspaper which he published weekly. He wrote the stories and drew the illustrations. His stories covered local news and events in Woodstock.
“Hello Mrs. Greco. Here’s my paper for you this week. Keep it hidden. I don’t want it to get in the hands of the wrong person.” He spoke rapidly. “Rick O’Shea tried to kill me this week. But I’m not going to let him get away with it.”
“What Happened?”
“I caught him outside the soup kitchen telling lies again. He’s an informant of the FBI and the CIA and he’s spreading lies about me again”.
“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Yes, he’s involved in the Exxon-Mobil scandal with the Iran Contras. But, he’s not going to get away with it. I’m an ex-Marine and an investigative journalist. I called the FBI on Rick and the whole bunch of them.”
“Good luck. Thanks for coming in. And…I LOVE your newspaper.”
Everytime I saw Paula Gloria in the halls, I ran up to her and hugged her. Paula always visited with her line neighbors, talking with them, finding out their problems, seeing how she could help. Paula helped people who were going through foreclosures or had problems with the police. When Paula had a court date of her own, several of her “line buddies” went to the courtroom and stood with her to offer support. Paula always gave more than she asked for.
Paula invited me to come on her popular public access TV show in New York City. I went down on two separate occasions to work with her. I had a show on Channel 23, the public access TV station in Woodstock. After spending two afternoons with Paula and watching her work, I totally changed the way I worked on my TV show. “Take This Bread” became a much more successful show with Paula Gloria’s assistance and influence.
One shopper, a local woman, always complained of multiple allergies, claustaphobia, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, etc. At every opportunity, Lemon Balm Betty left the pantry and ran around the parking lot yelling loudly “Thurman is a fucking asshole”. Then, one day, she brought in a large bouquet of mint and lemon balm. We put them out with the other fresh produce. Immediately, she smiled, was comfortable in the crowded hallway, and became the wonderful person we all suspected she was, when she hid behind her insults. Offerings of mint came every week during the summer from her.
Ho hum. It was just another pantry miracle. We had them all the time.
Many famous and semi-famous people were reduced to using the pantry regularly after the downfall of 2008. Because Woodstock attracted artists, musicians, and writers, many of them had second homes in the Woodstock area. Some of these creative and talented people saw their incomes totally dry up. I heard stories repeated many times over by different people.
They would, essentially, go like this: the person would have a home in the Woodstock area in addition to a place in New York City or Paris or Dubai or Miami or someplace, anyplace else. As the income dwindled, the person would look around, assess his/her situation and try to unload the most expensive place which was usually in the someplace else location.
Some were able to sublet. Others were able to sell. Still others underwent foreclosure. They came to Woodstock to live in the second home because it was cheaper only to find, in many cases, that there was absolutely zero opportunity to earn any money while out of the city environment.
So, here they were…down and out in Woodstock and Bearsville. Some even experienced foreclosure of the Upstate New York home.
The pantry line was filled weekly with intelligent, well educated, talented people who found themselves stranded because their support system was just not what it should have been. They, for the most part, made the best of it. What else could they do?
The refrain heard in the pantry line was “We gather at the Good Neighbor Food Pantry, where the elite meet.” I would see some of them in the line talking and joking together as they waited for food. What else could they do? Eventually some established new lifelines. Others ended up homeless.
There was always casual talk about diabetes. Many, many people suffered with it. Some families had both diabetes 1 and diabetes 2 in the members. Although I never took a real count, it’s my opinion that way over 30% of the shoppers and volunteers suffered with this terrible disease. Even if we tried to determine the number, it wouldn’t have been accurate because so many people don’t have healthcare. They don’t know what diseases they have or don’t have.
Diabetes is one of the worst diseases a person can have. Many suffering from diabetes develop other diseases also: kidney failure, strokes, and blindness. Bad diet and stress help it move along. There’s no doubt that people in the food pantry line are stressed. Our pantry did everything possible to get the very best quality food to the shoppers. However, it’s difficult to feed a family when there’s insufficient money and the pantry only offers a three-day supply of food which needs to last seven days.
Two neighborhood shoppers visited the pantry weekly. They shopped in the pantry for many years. Dorothy and her daughter Alice lived about a block away. They were a rare commodity in Woodstock: they were from Woodstock.
Dorothy and Alice weighed about 110 pounds together dripping wet. They came into the pantry, selected a few things and then walked away. Although they never got much, I always worried about how they were going to carry the food home because of Dorothy’s advanced age and light weight.
Dorothy and Alice didn’t have a car and there was really no other place for them to shop unless they went to the CVS, Cumberland Farms, or Woodstock Meats. They felt they couldn’t afford Sunflower Natural Foods Market or Sunfrost. For a time they caught a ride to Kingston to the Walmart every other week or so with a relative. After he died, they had no chance to leave Woodstock.
An older woman came weekly to the pantry with a black canvas shopping cart which she always tried to bring with her into the pantry room. Repeatedly, we went over the same routine:
“May I bring my cart into the pantry? I really shouldn’t be doing any lifting.” As she said this, she tugged at her cart to position it in the narrow trail between the shelves and the produce.
“It’s extremely crowded in here today. Please be careful. I’m not even sure you and your cart are going to get through the pantry isle. Please try not to knock over the produce as you go around the room.”
One week she didn’t visit the pantry. The next week, when we saw her, she still had her cart but she looked a little tired.
“I’m sorry I didn’t make it last week. I had a heart attack”.
“If you had called, we would have delivered food to your home.”
“Well, I’m completely out of food so I was afraid to take a chance that you might not be able to find me.”
One thing no one ever discussed in the halls was the past. They spoke about things that happened in the past week or so but never beyond. Whatever happened before the pantry came into their lives was just not on the agenda.
As holidays approached, no one ever spoke about the Thanksvgivings, Christmases, Hanukkahs, Passovers, Easters they had before their lives spun out of control. No one ever mentioned that there wasn’t enough money to get Passover food which was just not available in our pantry. No one ever asked a child what Santa was going to bring.
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Peace and food for all.
Thurman Greco.

Help Wanted at the Food Banks of Northeastern New York and Hudson Valley!


Have you ever wondered what goes on at the Food Bank? Where does the food come from? How does it get to the people?
Now is your chance to participate in a behind-the-scenes event at the Food Bank!
The Food Bank of Northeastern New York and the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley have recently received large donations of canned/boxed foods which need to be sorted before they can be distributed.
Your help is needed. Please come join in the project. Food is being sorted seven days per week.
Groups are welcome. This is a good opportunity for a church/civic group, scout group, garden club, writing group, book club. Individuals are also welcome! No group is too large or too small!
To join in this effort at the Food Bank of Northeastern New York in Latham, call Mary Mazur at 1-518-786-3691×268 or email her at If you would rather volunteer at Cornwall-on-Hudson, please call Andrew Bixby at 845-534-5344 to schedule a visit to help sort the donations.
Thanks for your help!
Thanks for reading this blog/book.
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Peace and food for all.
Thurman Greco