Hunger Is Not a Disease

5 Easy Steps to Your Successful Food Drive

 

It’s easier than you think.

Step 1:

Choose the food pantry, homeless shelter, school, church,  food bank,  or soup kitchen to receive  the food you collect.

Step 2:

Contact your recipient, and learn what items the hungry people need. Try to be specific. Can they only accept canned food items or can they use frozen and fresh foods?   What about pet food?

If they need pet food or food for homeless people, for example, request those items (with specific food item suggestions) at your drive.

Step 3:

Decide how you want to collect the donated food.

The method I prefer is, of course, the one that worked for me several times.   I recommend  this method:

Gather some large empty grocery bags in good condition.

Attach a letter to each one saying something like:

Dear Neighbor:

“We are having a food drive in this neighborhood.   Please fill this bag with food and set it out on your entryway on …………………………..  when it will be picked up between 00:00  and 00:00.  Include am and pm to be more specific.

We need the following kinds of food:……………………..

Your donated food will be donated to ………………………………   Thank you for your generosity.  If you have any questions, please call………………………………….    Signed…………………………………….”

Set the bags out at every address in the area you selected.

On the appointed date, return to the addresses and pick up the bags of food.

Step 4:

Deliver them to the selected food pantry, homeless shelter, school.

Step 5:

Pat yourself on your back.  You did a great job!

My experience with this  food drive method is that people respond positively because you give them bags, tell them exactly what food items you need, and return to pick up the food at a specific time on an exact date.

Thank you in advance for all you are doing to feed your neighbors.

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Have a wonderful day!

Thurman Greco

www.hungerisnotadisease.com

 

This was almost the last weekend.

There’s only one more weekend left at Mower’s Meadow Flea Market this year. I’ll be there the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving and then that’ll be it for awhile. I understand the flea market doesn’t open weekends again until May.

Don’t quote me on that. I’m not sure. But, one thing I’m sure about: I plan to be there every weekend next season. The hunger book, the donation jar, and I plan to be at Mower’s Meadow Flea Market next season.

I was at a different spot at the flea market every weekend. And, I really enjoyed being there. The people at the other booths were friendly, open, and interested in my booth. I got many tips and tried them all. It was obvious to everyone that I really didn’t know much about flea market marketing. I still don’t know much but my booth presentation has definitely improved.

Thank you to each and every one who bought copies of “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore”. I doubt if “The Ketchup Sandwich Chronicles” will be available by then but I working on it every day.

The title “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore” was named by Cullen Thomas and it was well chosen. Many people who picked up the book on the table were bothered by the title because they didn’t understand it. However, it definitely attracted attention.

For those with questions, the title referred to an “unhoused” congregation serving people outside the sanctuary. And, the food pantry was definitely outside the boundary of the sanctuary. The food pantry was, in fact, in the basement.

This story isn’t about how to fix or save or change a church. Nor is it, really, a story about a church at all. In fact, it’s not a manual about anything. It’s a story about how I discovered hungry people in the basement of the building in a tiny food pantry in the corner room.

A memoir, this story tells the truth as I remember it.

If you haven’t had a chance to read this book, it’ll be available at thurmangreco.com during the winter unless I find an indoor weekend flea market that’s appropriate for a table of books and open on the weekend.

My goal is to offer Reiki therapy and tarot readings in addition to the books at the flea market in the future.

But, whether I offer Reiki and tarot or not, I plan to be at a table selling both “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore” and “Healer’s Handbook”. When “Ketchup Sandwich Chronicles” comes out, I’ll add it to the stack!

See you there!

Thurman Greco

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Prayer for the Hungry – Number 3

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I stand before you humbly, O Holy One, the One God of Israel as I offer a prayer for the hungry .

I offer thanksgiving, praises, blessings in this prayer for the hungry.

I ask for your forgiveness and mercy, O God.  All life is in Your hands.

I come to you humbly, asking for protection – not for myself but for those hungry individuals and families who shop in food pantries everywhere.  This hunger weaves the souls of these shoppers together for all time.

Grant them hope and strength to travel through their days  courageously.

O Holy One, give them grace, mercy, harmony, peace.

Teach those of us working in pantries  to have patience as we support the hungry in their struggle to carry on day after day after day against all odds.

Please let us remember that,  through religious teaching everywhere,   we know You feed all of us – not only physically but spiritually.  Let this awareness  give the hungry confidence that their needs are being met.  Let this knowledge inspire us to make sure that everyone shopping at pantries everywhere receives the food and support necessary to carry on in the never relenting struggle.  Remind us continually that we are doing Your work.

Help us choose the right words as we communicate with the hungry so that a chance remark won’t make things worse.

Make us always aware of the hungry who are homeless and suffering with mental illness.  May you grant them complete healing – of body, mind, and spirit.

O God to Whom we all Pray, I offer you my most sincere gratitude for all you have don, are doing, and will do for those of us who suffer with hunger and homelessness.

And, now I say Amen.

The Monks are Going, Going, Gone

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They came in quietly, unannounced, a couple of years ago on the 10:05 Trailways  bus from Boston.    Eighteen monks in all.   They were transferred out of a lovely monastery in Brookline, Massachusetts,  these priests who traditionally never move at all.

They left quietly these last few weeks, unannounced.  They’re moving to a brand new monastery north of Albany.  Funny how these things happen.   I get the feeling that God is grinning from ear to ear.

We met them because, when they showed up in Woodstock they were temporarily hungry.  The story was slow to surface and I wrote about it earlier in this blog and on the Good Morning Woodstock Blog .  They shopped at the Good Neighbor Food Pantry until they got their budget straightened out.  Once we found them, Peggy made sure they didn’t lack for anything if the pantry had anything to do with it.

In a very short time, weeks, they were delivering food to the home bound on Tuesday mornings with the other pantry volunteers.  They filled out an application to be a food  pantry with the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley.  And, finally, they were attending our mass distributions.

Within a few short months they had their own food pantry going and were serving food to the hungry seven days a week.

Without saying a word, these men of the cloth showed us all how to feed the hungry.    They didn’t skimp.  They made as many food runs to Albany as they needed.  They offered whatever food they had to anyone who needed it.

Then, when I went out and helped open the Reservoir Food Pantry, they made sure we never lacked for yogurt.  Every time the pantry opened we had a freezer filled  for our hungry.

I mean, these priests showed us all how to feed the hungry.  They didn’t offer a three-day-supply of food to someone with the understanding that it needed to last seven days.  They didn’t spend a lot of time focusing on questions about where people lived.  It didn’t matter whether a person was homeless or not.

When the hungry pulled away from the Holy Assumption Monastery Food Pantry, they had  enough food to not only feed the body but the soul.

So now, the priests, who traditionally never  leave a monastery and move to another monastery, are packing up their gorgeous beeswax candle factory, their Food Bank ID number, and moving off to a community which really needs their skills, their dedication, their belief system.

Frankly, I was devastated when I heard the news.  I went out to visit and write the story.  I couldn’t do it.

I sat, visited, and kept asking myself “How can this happen?”  The answer is easy, folks.  They are being asked to take their skills and expertise to Schoharie County where no one is going to question the ethics of feeding the hungry.

And, I  take comfort in the fact that we have not been abandoned in Woodstock.  We have been taught our lesson.  So…now the monastery is being converted into a convent.

These gorgeous men of God are taking their smiles, their radiant halos, their worship, and their food pantry skills to Cobbleskill, New York and they will press on with their daily lives.

The good nuns will have a pantry in Bearsville for our hungry. I understand they’ve already got their own Food Bank ID number.   God is making sure we don’t forget what we learned.

Thank you for reading this blog/book.

Please refer this article to your preferred social media network.

Thurman Greco

 

Summertime

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“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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“What’re You Doing?”

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“What’re you doing?” she asked. For a minute, I didn’t understand what was happening.  We were all crowded into the pantry.  I was trying to make sure the shoppers got through the tiny shed with all the groceries they needed (and qualified for) without anybody getting squashed.

“What’re you doing?” she asked again.  Then, I realized she was trying to talk with me about something in the midst of this chaos.  Sometimes people do that.  They decide to have a conversation…to get to know the people in the room better possibly.  Often, they want to know more about a product or maybe get a recipe.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, I’m thinking about 2015.  This place has changed so much over this past year.  When I first started coming here, there were only a few of us.  Now look around.  There’re people everywhere.  You open the pantry now every week about 2 hours early.  The boxes are piling up outside.  We’re all so happy you’re here and we’re all so grateful for the food.  I know you can use some more help.

“Can you give anything away?  What do you have to do to get a little freedom?  How can you get a lighter spirit?”

WOW!  Talk about God in the pantry!  I thought a minute as the people moved through the tiny shed choosing a can of soup, a gallon of vinegar, a small bottle of water, a box of crackers.

But, I only needed a minute.  What do I have to do to get a lighter spirit?  Well, in order to lighten the load, I need to give something away…

Cardboard!

Every week our pantry is totally overrun with empty boxes at the end of the pantry day.  By 4:00, everyone is tired, grumpy, winded, bushed, fatigued…you name it.  And, what do we look at?

We look at a mountain…an actual mountain of cardboard.

When I thought about giving away those empty boxes, my heart began to sing.  I felt as if I was as light as a feather.

What a wonderful opportunity this shopper had given to me…to everyone at the pantry, actually.  She gave us the gift of vision.  Once a vision exists, reality can follow.  So, I began to visualize a pantry with 0 discarded boxes at the close of the pantry day.

I was energized by this vision.  I realized what needed to happen was the reality of the vision.  The energy needs to follow the intent to create the reality.

So, 2 thoughts came to me.

The first thought was to give away the boxes…1 by 1.  That’s how they do it at the Food Coop in Great Barrington.  When a shopper goes to the Food Coop there, s/he chooses the cardboard boxes needed to carry the groceries out of the building.

So,that’s what we’re doing now.  Beginning just a few minutes after the shopper started talking to me, I asked everyone to take home a box.  That, of course, didn’t get rid of all the boxes.

But, it did make a huge dent in the pile.

I’m also asking everyone I meet at the pantry “Who can haul off the boxes at the end of the pantry?”  I’m sure as sight that someone will surface to take the empty boxes to a dump somewhere.

There is someone out there who wants to volunteer at the pantry, who has a pickup or SUV, and who knows where a convenient transfer station is.

Maybe you know someone.  Maybe you can do this.  If your answer is “yes” please drop by the pantry on Monday afternoon about 4:00 or call 845-399-3967.

Thank you for reading this blog/book.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco

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.

HANDICAP ACCESS – Yes

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

 

 

 

A Labor Day Celebration at the Reservoir Food Pantry – and, an Open House on the 11th!

While many of us in the area are out celebrating summer’s last weekend, the volunteers at Reservoir Food Pantry are  celebrating as well…but in a different way.

THE PANTRY OPENS AT 2 P.M. ON MONDAYS,  HOLIDAY OR NOT.   We celebrate a Monday holiday by offering food to hungry people who do not otherwise have the funds to get the food.

This particular week in September is always an expensive one because not only are our shoppers trying to buy food for upcoming school lunches, they are out scrounging for school supplies and school clothes for the children.  It’ll soon be time for sweaters and coats.

Prasida drove to Latham  Friday for the produce.

OTHER FRESH FOOD IS  DONATED, AS ON EVERY OTHER WEEK,  BY MIGLIORELLI FARM, BREAD ALONE BAKERY,  SHANDAKEN GARDENS ABD HUGUENOT STREET FARM .

,Volunteers at the Reservoir Food Pantry usually serve about 50 families and households on Monday afternoons.  They serve an equal number of homebound households  on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Food for Tuesday’s deliveries to homebound and senior neighbors is  packed on Mondays at the end of the pantry shift.  Distribution  continues on Tuesdays and Fridays.

We’re celebrating our first anniversary on September 11th between 4 and 7.  Please come join us.  See our new pantry.  It’s in an adorable barn located behind Robert’s Auction in Boiceville at 4073 Route 28.  As someone recently said “You’re STILL open!”

Yes, we’re STILL open!

JOIN  IN THE FESTIVITIES!

The Reservoir Food Pantry is now accepting volunteers to deliver food to  homebound households and seniors in the area.  A route delivery person is needed in the Olivebridge area.  If you are interested, please call 845-399-3967.

If you want to support the Reservoir Food Pantry but cannot volunteer, you are invited to send a donation to P.O.Box 245, Boiceville, NY, 12412.  Please make the check out to Reservoir Food Pantry.

We thank you in advance for your support of the Reservoir Food Pantry.

Peace and food for all.

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Thurman Greco

 

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Meetings, Meetings, Meetings: Preparing for the next Big One

“If one person, just one person does it they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him.  And, if two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both faggots and they won’t take either one of them.  And if three people do it, three, can you imagine three people walking in singing a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out, they may think it’s an organization.” – Arlo Guthrie

Disaster Preparedess, Response, and Recovery

Hudson Valley Farm Fresh

Shelter Committee

Volunteer Workforce

Feeding Committee

Community Animal Response Team

The list continues.  Groups have been meeting  for months.

THE FOCUS IS ON THE NEXT BIG ONE.  I’ve attended some because, as a pantry coordinator,  I’ll be involved somehow.    After a hurricane or other disaster, the people visiting  a pantry can be frightened, confused.

A pantry coordinator after Irene and Sandy, I experienced first hand the face of tragedy worn by the shoppers after they lost homes, jobs, cars.

AFTER IRENE AND SANDY, I TRIED TO INTEREST WOODSTOCK PEOPLE IN PREPARING FOR THE NEXT BIG ONE.   I was too soon.   The response was silence and cold stares.

Now, a group works to minimize future damage.  The thought, planning, preparation, is significant, thorough, detail oriented.  Many people are  important in this endeavor:  Michael Berg from Family, Robert  Lamoree from Community Action, and Michael Raphael from American Red Cross.   Beth McLenden from UlsterCorps, John Scott from Bruderhof, Stacey Rein and Su Marcey from United Way, and a deeply involved group supporting these people.  Representatives from FEMA, Homeland Security, Office of the Aging, Alcoa are doing their part to move this preparations along.

THERE ARE OTHERS – MANY OTHERS.  What’s important is not  the names.  Everyone does whatever is necessary  to minimize disaster damage and to be more effective responders:

They’re seeking out community leaders and residents to identify shelters, feeding stations.

They’re planning innovative strategies to reach more people.

They’re making efforts to identify those who will need assistance.

They’re working to get as many people trained as possible.

FOR MANY, THE EFFORTS ARE HERCULEAN   I see legacies being left as people work.  I  see careers boosted.  But, let me state here:  I don’t think  even one person is focused on either legacy or career ladders.  Everyone is focused on disaster preparation, response, and relief.

Every Monday afternoon at 2, Reservoir Food Pantry volunteers gather behind Robert’s Auction and distribute food to people whose lives were seriously impacted by Hurricane Irene and Superstorm Sandy.  Many still do not have their lives repaired.

Our disaster preparation focus at the pantry is how to feed shoppers during and after a disaster.   We’re trying to identify the older homebound persons who might not be on anyone else’s radar screen.

FOR THIS, ‘HYPER LOCAL KNOWLEDGE IS NEEDED’.  Unfortunately, Ulster County is a large, diverse plot of land.  Few know the entire county intimately.  Disaster Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Committee people are scouring the entire county and gathering information, planning…working hard to have Ulster County ready for the next Big One.

ARE YOU INTERESTED?

On Tuesday, August 26th at 10 am, there will be a Phoenicia/Shandaken Area Disaster Workforce Planning Meeting at St. Francis deSales Parish Hall in Phoenicia at 109 Main St.

YOUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE AREA WILL BE A GREAT HELP HERE IF YOU CAN ATTEND AND CAN SHARE.

On Tuesday, September 2nd from 5 to 9 pm, there will be an introductory training at the Ulster County Sheriff’s office, 380 Boulevard, in Kingston.  I’m going to attend this one.  Can you come too?

And, on Saturday, October 18th, Alcoa/American Red Cross will sponsor an Emergency Preparedness Event from 10:30 am to 3 pm at Alcoa Fastening Systems, 1 Corporate Drive, Kingston.

COME IF YOU CAN.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco

 

 

 

Food Pantry Blog – Whew!

Such a day!  Such a week!  Even I can’t believe all of it.  But, I suppose actions speak for themselves.  And, I have to realize we’ve been working towards this week for a whole year now.

Volunteers at the Reservoir Food Pantry are living proof that excitement can make a person drunk.  We were intoxicated on gratitude all day  Monday.

For starters, Prasida went off to Latham early Monday morning and returned at noon with almost 700 pounds of fresh produce – gorgeous produce.  Corn, greens, potatoes, onions, carrots, herbs, spinach, apples, apricots, peaches, melons, beans.

And, while Prasida was off on 87 doing her thing, the two Bobs,  Pat and I were over at the Hannaford’s getting our very first monthly shipment.  With a lot of planning and praying, this went off without a hitch.  This is a huge step for our new little pantry.  We’re working on a standing appointment at 11:30 on delivery day!

Then,  we made our way over to the pantry and set up our tables.  The spread, under a gorgeous sky, was the best ever.  And, to celebrate all this bounty, some of us worked the distribution tables serving  groceries from the Food Bank, Migliorelli Farm, Shandaken Community Gardens, Bread Alone, and Esotec.

Others  measured shelving for the new shed we just put behind Robert’s Auction.  At one point, Sean went off to purchase same so we can get it installed.

By the end of the pantry day, we were all so excited we weren’t touching the ground.

We’re soon to celebrate our first anniversary!  We hope you’ll come out between 4 and 7 on the afternoon of September 11th.  We won’t be hard to find.  We’ll be in the adorable red shed behind Robert’s Auction in Boiceville.

Come out and see what all the excitement is about.  Come share some refreshments.  Come see where people pantry shop in the Reservoir area!

Peace and food for all.

Thank you for reading this blog/book.

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Please send a comment.

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Thurman Greco