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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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“Woodstock is completely packed with Coronavirus refugees from Brooklyn. We’re doing more business here in the post office than we have every done. This post office is busier than any Christmas rush has ever been.”
What a day!
I got a call from someone earlier today. “The food pantry is closed, Thurman. How can this happen?” As I went by the Woodstock Library, I saw a sign: “Closed”
The Coronavirus affects us all. We cannot avoid the reality. People jokingly call our community Brooklyn North.
As long as you have a car and money and an apartment and a cell phone and a computer, all you have to worry about is the spread of germs. But, that’s not how it is with everyone. Without a car and money and an apartment and a computer and a call phone, your life tells a different story.
Without those luxuries, your lifeline requires a food pantry and a library.
The library is essential because it’s your ticket to information about food, housing, and anything else you need to find. A library will help you find everything you need to survive. And, while it’s giving you information, a library roof keeps you dry. The walls of the library keep you warm and comfortable while you seek all that you need.
And, of course, the library has one other luxury people don’t talk about much: a bathroom. If you are without food and a roof and a computer and a cell phone, a bathroom is essential.
So, while the Woodstock Reformed Church has closed its doors, most of the food pantries in New York state are figuring out how to get food to people. They are receiving support from the Food Bank.
In fact, the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley reports that volunteers are responding to every emergency request received. This includes food deliveries to seniors, quarantined and high-risk individuals, school back pack programs.
If you can get to a phone, there are a couple of phone numbers you can call. Try 845-399-0376 or 845-633-2120.
Sources tell me that many food pantries and soup kitchens are not closed. I truly hope you can find one.
So, what can we do? Well, for starters, try to contact people you know but seldom see and find out how they are doing. Do they need anything? Is there anything you can do?
Contact food pantries and soup kitchens in your area and see if they need anything. My bet is that they do. My bet is they need food.
Times are serious. Your help is needed!
If you run out of ideas, contact me at thurmangreco@gmail and I’ll send you, free of charge, my three action guides with practical tips for fighting hunger and homelessness.
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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!
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