Hunger Is Not a Disease

No Fixed Address

“No Fixed Address” is dedicated to those in our country with no roof over their heads.  See your neighbors, your friends, your relatives, in new ways as they describe their daily lives in their own words.

The people in this new book reveal themselves to be both brave and fearless as they go about their activities:  work, laundry, children’s homework, appointments.  Mostly they live like the rest of us.  They just have no roof over their heads.

“No Fixed Address” is my newest book in the Unworthy Hungry series.  It’s easy to read and understand.  You won’t be bored, not even for a minute.

I hope you’ll order it today.  Get an extra copy for a friend!

This book has an extra surprise.  When you get a copy, you’ll be making a donation to a good cause.  You’ll be fighting hunger and homelessness.

It doesn’t get much better than that!

Thank you for reading this article!

Please forward it to your preferred social media network.

Thurman Greco

Hungry People

When an economy tanks, hungry people find the food pantry.   The tanked economy of 2008 has been referred to many times in the past few days on the news.  References to past broken economies  are made every day.

The situation is very different this time, but for the  hungry people, the situation  is the same.

In 2008, New York got with the program quickly, it seemed. The Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program people handed down guidelines mandating specific foods for the pantry room.  Produce, whole-grain bread, eggs, dairy products appeared on the shelves.  Crowds and an ever-lengthening hallway line became the norm.

In Woodstock, the pantry attracted several hundred hungry people to its basement room every pantry day.  The line formed outside the door at 1:00 for the 3:00 opening, regardless of the weather.  Hungry people who visited the pantry a week ago and took home groceries, would today be out of food and need more.

Today, in 2020, some pantries are closed.  That puts even more pressure on the pantries that are open.  Food pantry volunteers are not only serving more and more hungry people because of the layoffs of the pandemic.  They are also serving people who shopped at the now-closed pantries.

When people live close to the edge,  they have no reliable cushion.   They’ve lived in a situation where they make choices every day:  food or medicine, food or rent, food or gas.  Now, when the coronavirus strikes, they have no either/or choices.

Food pantry volunteers take precautions.  They take temperatures as volunteers enter the pantry.  Volunteers wash hands repeatedly and  adhere to the six-foot social distancing guidelines.

But the need for food is not imaginary.

Volunteers are realistic.  They can’t kid themselves into believing nothing will happen to them because they feed  hungry people.  They know they’re taking chances.  They also know they are doing a needed job.  For many volunteers, it’s something they need to do.

There are no words for this feeling.

I have a small thank-you gift for you.  All you have to do is email your name and mailing address to me at and I’ll send you, free of charge, with no strings attached, a small book about a food pantry I used to work in – “Miracles”.

Thank you for all you do…not only for volunteering in a food pantry but also for shopping at a food pantry.  Your actions are courageous.  Following your inner moral compass is also courageous.

Please refer this article to your preferred social media network.

Thurman Greco



My Story and the 9 Truths I Discovered


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:




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:









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?

Thanks for reading this blog.

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Thurman greco

The Freezers Came This Week!

RFP-Tent (1)
The freezers came this week! These beauties are 20 cu. ft. upright Frigidaires brought over by Snyder’s. We feel very special here at the Reservoir Food Pantry because they will change life in the pantry as we have known it in the past.
EVERY ADDITION TO THE PANTRY CHANGES LIFE HERE DRAMATICALLY BECAUSE WE’RE SUCH A NEW PANTRY. There’s so much going on over here that I have trouble keeping up.
Since September, 2013, we’ve gone from a homeless pantry whose volunteers delivered food to homeless and home bound people. In the first few weeks we were open, over 40 households found us.
Then, we landed a spot outside the Waste Water Treatment Plant, put up a tent, and served the hungry. I vividly remember the Monday afternoon we served 18 households. “Don’t worry” I told everyone. “In no time at all, we’ll be serving 25.” A couple of people looked at me with expressions of total disbelief.
Yesterday we served over 90 households in the pantry shed.
Two weeks ago we got the dumpster.
So now we’ve got
a shed,
a long line van,
a produce room,
a dumpster,
a website,
a facebook page,
a free bookstore compliments of Lisa Libraries,
the best volunteers in the world.
We’ve got other things too but I have trouble keeping up.
Only last week I learned that we’re ranked the 9th largest pantry in Ulster County.
“Is that true?” I thought. We’ve only been open a very short time. How did this happen?
But, back to the refrigerators:
We got them because of a collaborative grant request effort of several area pantries under the direction of Michael Berg at Family and Beth McLendon of UlsterCorp.
But, this isn’t the end of the story. It’s more like the beginning of the story…even though the beginning goes back to about 2007 or so when a HPNAP (Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program) directive offering preference to refrigerator and freezer requests in pantries in our annual HPNAP grant requests.
HPNAP wants us to use freezers and refrigerators because fresh/frozen food is more nutritious than canned. And, when HPNAP wants something, they usually follow through with funds.
Our little Reservoir Food Pantry in Boiceville routinely offers the absolute best, most nutritious, most delicious food possible for our shoppers…thanks to the freezers which go with our refrigerators. Hungry people shopping at our pantry eat fewer and fewer canned foods, many of which are heavy on salt, and dented.
Instead, hungry people shopping at our pantry choose cheese, yogurt, frozen veggies, fruits, meats. They also choose fresh fruits and vegetables brought down weekly by Prasida and Francine from Latham in our lovely long line van.
They take home eggs, milk, butter, and other refrigerated/frozen foods.
With the freezers and refrigerators, our take out packers don’t worry about running out of canned food. Instead, they go to one of the freezers and choose from the selection there.
This is your tax dollars at work. I say “Let’s all vote a raise for the HPNAP people!”
Thanks for reading this blog/book.
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I hope you found this post helpful. Please leave your comments below and check out our other posts.
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Peace and food for all.
Thurman Greco

Do you shop at a Pantry? Do you work at a Pantry? Do you donate to a Pantry? – Part 3



At first, when I was just learning to be a pantry coordinator, I didn’t understand what was wrong.  We got in some soup  which everyone looked at, read the label, and left on the shelf.  So, I asked Barry to visit the pantry.

“WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THIS SOUP?  Most of the people are leaving it on the shelf.  There’s only 6 different things they can take home here.   Why are they leaving the soup behind?”

“Well, it’s the nutritional content” he said, reading the label.  There’s no nutrition.  And, everyone knows too much salt is not good.”

I began to watch the shoppers reading the labels and I asked questions.  I got an earful of important information from people trying to live on pantry food.  I learned several important things:


there may not always be enough of it

there may not be  enough fresh vegetables

everything is canned resulting in high sodium products

there is no real choice.

At the time, there were fewer than 10 items in the pantry to choose from which didn’t offer a shopper enough options to deal with dietary restrictions (celiac disease, hypertension, diabetes), personal preference, and enough variety to offer good nutritional selection.

As a new coordinator, I still didn’t yet know all my options and wasn’t comfortable with the Food Bank system yet.  This much I knew:

The food supply I had to choose from was then and is now supply driven instead of need driven.  In other words, I can’t order everything the pantry needs at a given time because it’s not always available.  Foods available at the Food Bank are donations from grocery stores, farms, food manufacturers.

MUCH  FOOD BANK FOOD IS DIVERTED FROM A LANDFILL.    In other words, it’s salvage.  I order food donated from test marketing disasters, crop overproduction, Food Bank food drives.


Several things happened in those early years that I coordinated the pantry.  They really helped:

The HPNAP people took a stand against too much salt which I got all excited about.  They issued guidelines forbidding agencies to use HPNAP funds to purchase foods have too many grams of salt per serving.

Gradually, as the economy declined, the HPNAP people added other nutritional improvements:

1% milk

Whole grain breads

Lean meats

A minimum 3 -day-supply of food for everyone in the household.

Fresh produce.


The pantry offered very little junk food even though there was certainly a lot of it at the Food Bank.  The Food Bank accepts donations  but that doesn’t  mean I have to put the junk food on my pantry’s shelf.

These guidelines and availability are still a reality in the pantry world as our calendar approaches 2015.  I  leave the junk food off my orders so other coordinators can have it.

And, I’m still grateful for:

crop overproduction

Food Bank food drives

HPNAP guidelines

food that can be diverted from the landfill

generous bakeries

the Farm Stand

the Food Bank truck that’s making the rounds of the grocery stores, farms, food manufacturers so we can have their overage at our food pantry.

Pantry HND1

Peace and food for all.

Thank you for reading this blog/book.

Please refer this article to your preferred social media network.

Please send a comment.

Don’t forget to join the email list.

Thurman Greco



Paul Shultis, Jr., and The Men of Woodstock and 4 Categories of food

In the last post Gene Huckle suggested that I go to a Woodstock Town Board meeting and try to get a truck.

So I did.  I went to a Town Board meeting and asked the Town to drive a truck over and pick up the food for the pantry.  What did I have to lose, right?  Well, that request went nowhere.  However, townspeople responded.  Calls came in from area residents.  And several volunteered monthly.

After that, I would put an item in the “Woodstock Times” newspaper on the week before the shipment arrival asking for volunteers.  People just showed up at the Hannaford’s.

Paul Shultis, Jr., became a “regular”.  He showed up every month driving a heavy  duty pickup with a trailer attached to the rear.  His rig could carry 4,000 pounds easy.  I loved, loved, loved the sight of that rig coming up to the pantry door filled with food.  Paul Shulti, Jr., took time off from work every month so he could caravan the food from the Hannaford’s to the pantry.

We would never in a million years have been able to get the food to the pantry without the generosity and dedication that Paul and the townspeople showed as they arrived at the Hannaford’s parking lot every month.

Each month I spent the week before the delivery day calling the Food Bank daily to place the food order.  I started the order on Monday and then added to it throughout the week.  On Monday I ordered food from four different categories:


Donated Foods

Salvage Food

Coop Food

I ordered everything I could get from the free United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) food first.  The USDA food is part of the government’s farm subsidy program which includes, among other things, distributing excess food to the hungry.

The next post will focus on how the Food Bank works to get the food for us.

Thanks again for reading this blog/book.

Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco


I ordered

Bringing it Home to the Food Pantry – Part 1

“Their income is going down while food costs are not.”-William S. Simon

Beginning with this post, the next few posts will focus on how the food actually gets to the pantry from the Food Bank.  This is a huge part of the coordinator’s job.  Also, whenever anyone speaks to me about the food pantry, the question they always ask first is “Where does the food come from?  How do you get it to the pantry?”

What follows is the answer.

Once it became obvious that the 3-day rule directed by Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program (HPNAP) was pretty much here to stay.  I began to try to get the food to the pantry.   After all, a 3-day supply of food for everyone in the household is a far cry from a can of tuna, a box of cereal, and a jar of peanut butter.

The bottom line here is that the whole pantry was turned upside down.  I placed an order every month from the Food Bank.  The Food Bank of Northeastern New York has a monthly delivery route throughout its territory and our shipment arrived in the parking lot behind the Hannaford’s in the Kingston Plaza Shopping Center on a prearranged Tuesday morning, usually on the third Tuesday,.  We had a standing 9:15 a.m. appointment.

I began asking individuals at the different congregations to help bring over the food from Kingston.  Every month was a new beginning because I was relying on whatever congregation had volunteers in the pantry each month.  I asked Carmen Adler, my  contact at Christ Lutheran Church, to help me one month.   One volunteer showed up to help.  Although he was  willing to help, he had a bad back and his pickup had faulty brakes.  I knew I had to do something.

Gene Huckle dropped by the pantry.  “What you need is a truck, Thurman.  Go to a Town Board meeting and ask the town to send a truck over to Kingston for the food.  Delivery day takes only a couple of hours of truck time each month.  Surely there’s an available truck somewhere.”

Go Gene!

In the next post, we’ll find out what happened with the truck and begin to understand how I ordered the food.

Thanks for following this blog/book.

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

Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco

Woodstock, NY