Hunger Is Not a Disease

Meet Anna Woofenden – You’re Gonna LOVE Her and Her Book!




There aren’t many books about there about hunger in America.  Whenever I think of books about food pantries, the first writer I think of Sara Miles.

Well, it turns out that Sara Miles has a special friend, a writer friend.

I found Anna Woofenden’s book, “This is God’s Table” by accident on a table at the Barnes and Noble store in Kingston, New York.  If only I could give copies of Anna Woofenden’s  book to everyone.  And, I mean everyone, including you.


Anna Woofenden started a Garden Church without walls in a vacant lot on 6th Street in San Pedro, California.

Anna placed a cedar stump table in the center of her worship space and consecrated it when she anointed it with oil.

From that moment, people joined her as they gardened,  worshiped, and ate together weekly.  All were welcome at God’s Table.

Whenever everyone is welcome,  they all come.  This welcoming,  worshiping, and eating together attracts  the old and the young, the housed and unhoused, the rich and the poor, and everyone in between.

I invite you to get a copy of Anna Woofenden’s book,  “This is God’s Table”,  and read it.

You can connect with her at

Again, thank you for reading this blog post.

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Thanks again!

Thurman Greco


I Need a Gun – “Ketchup Sandwich Chronicles” – Hunger is not a Disease

“How much is an application for a gun permit?” I was the only cotton topped little old lady in the line at the Golden Hill government office in Kingston.
The counter person, an overweight man in his fifties, could hardly contain his laughter as he handed me the gun permit application. “That’ll be $5.00 please, miss.”
After handing him the money, I started to walk away. Then, turning back to him, I said pleasantly, “Will you sell me three more applications, please? A couple of the girls in my senior yoga class asked me to get applications for them, too.”
Pulling out $15.00 more, I put the money on the counter. The man gave me three more gun applications and I walked away. I had no idea who was going to receive them and I didn’t attend any senior yoga class but I remembered the old “Alice’s Restaurant” song about three people doing something and being part of a movement.

Things in the pantry were negative and confrontational since the first day I drove up with fresh produce for the hungry people shopping in the pantry. In the beginning, I tried to hide things and overlook the situation. Frankly, I hoped the negativity would just go away. And, of course, I was mistaken. Situations like that don’t just evaporate. People don’t just change. And now, I was beginning to tire of the whole situation. I’d been living with fear for years and was feeling like it was time to try to fix things.
Maybe a gun will help, I thought.
When I got home, Barry was sitting on the sofa, surrounded by his cats, Fizzle and Carrots, as he read his latest thriller.
“Hi, honey. How’s your day going?” Without looking up, he took a few grapes from a large fruit filled bowl on a table by the sofa.
“Here’s the application for the gun permit I just got. I want you to teach me to shoot a gun.”
“You can do it. You didn’t spend all those years sneaking off to the CIA without knowing how to use a gun. They even gave you a medal or something. For all I know, you’re a damn bazooka expert. Maybe I want to learn that, too!”
“You can’t do that! You might shoot one of the Chihuahuas.”
“Well, I’m tired of asking pantry volunteers to be bodyguards. It’s not safe when I’m working after hours at the pantry. And, I’m not one bit afraid of the shoppers.”
“Listen, I know your job is difficult. Not even a Marine drill sergeant would do what you’re doing. But, I don’t know about a gun.”
“That Mag-Lite I bought a while back just isn’t what I need. A gun is more powerful and I’ve lived with them my whole life. My grandmother kept a rifle in her bathroom.”
“T.G. you’re just not the gun type. I’ll teach you to use a knife. A good knife won’t cost as much as a gun and you won’t need a permit. You won’t need to buy bullets. There’s nothing to clean unless you stab someone. It’ll be easier to use and carry. I’ll give you some lessons. Nobody will ever know. It’ll be our secret. Leash up the Chihuahuas. We’re going to Warren Cutlery in Rhineback.”

And so he did. He took me to Warren Cutlery where there was a generous selection of knives. We went into the knife room which included stock for kitchens as well as other knives not designed to slice and chop onions. I stood in front of the case. “Which knife are you interested in?” The clerk spoke to me as though showing weapons to a cotton topped old lady was the most boring thing he did all day. And, maybe it was.
“I’d like to see the one over there with the four-inch blade, please.” I held it in my hand and then asked to see several more on display in the case. Barry walked over to the case, stood beside me, and saw the knife I held in my hand.
“That knife is too big and too heavy.” he said, pointing to a smaller model. “You need something you can carry in your purse and you need something you can open rapidly. If you’re too slow, your attacker will have you down before you get it open.”
So, I chose a smaller, lighter model that happened to be on sale.
Barry paid the bill, and off we went.
He did just what he said he would. He taught me how to open a knife quickly but never bothered teaching me to close it.
And, he was correct. A knife is quiet. It weighs less than a gun. There’s no need for a permit. The Chihuahuas won’t get shot. And, unless I go through a metal detector before I take it out of my purse, no one has a clue.
Before it was over, he bought me a second knife which I kept open on the pantry counter next to the large Mag-Lite, ostensibly to open the cardboard boxes.

Thurman Greco

Woodstock, New York

Thank you for reading this story. It is, for now, the first chapter in “The Ketchup Sandwich Chronicles.”

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Holiday Christmas Feast December 25th at Congregation Emanuel

Congregation Emanuel of the Hudson Valley at 243 Albany Avenue, Kingston, NY 12401 is having its second annual Christmas Feast on December 25th from noon until 3:00 pm.
You are invited!
Christmas Feast Holiday dinners are always a good time to get together with others and get to know new people. Holiday dinners are a good time to sit at a table and swap news stories and enjoy food with one another. The members and volunteers at Congregational Emanuel hope you’ll join us at the Feast on the 25th.
Thank you for reading this article. Please share this blog post with your friends and refer it to your preferred social network. Please don’t forget to tell your friends about this feast and share this post with your email neighbors.

Thank you –

Thurman Greco

May the coming new year bring you the best of all you need and desire.

Caring Hands

Kingston, New York is a rapidly gentrifying and trendy  trendy little town in New York State.   Almost every day I see new neighbors in this community.  They’ve found just the perfect weekend apartment and are ecstatically, euphorically furnishing it with just the perfect finds.  In short, they are in love with Kingston!

In their giddiness, they have may not have  yet noticed the Caring Hands Food Pantry and Soup Kitchen.  Or maybe they have.  Maybe they see that one of the most important  things about Kingston is that the residents care for one another.  This attitude helps make Kingston what it is – a community we all want to be part of.

2017 is turning out to be  a tough year for food pantries in general and Caring Hands Food Pantry in Kingston, New York in particular.  But, Caring Hands isn’t just a food pantry.  It’s a soup kitchen, and a warming center with a recovery and twelve-step program.  As if that’s not enough, they’ve got  a free legal clinic, too.

Volunteers at Caring Hands, under the direction of the Rev. Darlene L. Kelley at the Clinton Avenue Methodist Church, work hard as they put their beliefs into action daily.  Almost 600 meals are served weekly in the soup kitchen.  Over 3,000 households   receive groceries monthly.

Children, the elderly, families, veterans, and the ill are all welcome at Caring Hands.  The goal is to help people in need help themselves.  The message of God’s transforming love is spread throughout the community from the Clinton Avenue Methodist Church as it ripples out in waves.

It is easy for you to be a part of this message.  You don’t have to move to Kingston.  You don’t have to attend the church there.  You don’t even have to know anyone in the area.  All you need to do is give a little … or a lot … of whatever you can share.

  1.  Sending a check always helps.  Caring Hands always needs money.
  2.  Sending a gift certificate always helps, too.  Did someone give  you  a gift certificate that  that you’ll probably never use?  Well, now is a good time to use it.  Send it on over.
  3. Extra time is extremely valuable.  If you live in the area, you can be a part of this  miracle when you volunteer.  Your gift of presence will be greatly appreciated.
  4. Hold a food drive.  Gifts of food are always, always needed.  If you don’t live in the area, hold a food drive anyway and donate the cans and boxes of food to a food pantry in your area.
  5. Call an elected representative  and lobby for the poor and hungry in your area.  Persuade this elected official to be generous with funds for those around us who do not have everything they need to live a healthy life.
  6. Your prayers and kind thoughts are always welcome.  Those at Caring Hands as well as at other food pantries throughout our country are working hard to bring food and love to a broken community.  They need your support.

Caring Hands has a mailing address to send your check and/or  gift certificates:  CARING HANDS


P. O. Box 1099

Kingston, New York 12402.

Thank you for reading this blog post.  Hopefully you’ll share it with your favorite social media outlet.

With this blog posted article comes an apology for not having posted often enough in the past months.  This doesn’t mean that I don’t care or that I’m no longer interested in hunger.  To the contrary.  I’m deeply involved in bringing my next book to my publisher.  And, it’s about hunger in America.

Thurman Greco

Ho Hum – Just Another Miracle


No question about it, miracles do happen.  Maybe you don’t believe in miracles.  I do.  I was in denial for the longest time.  But, after awhile, I had to face reality.  There were simply too many coincidences:

One September pantry day a few years ago the lines were longer than usual and the shelves were emptying out fast.  “I think we’re going to run out of food” I mentioned under my breath to Marie Duane, a volunteer from St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church.

“Do we have a plan for this kind of event?” I asked myself.

Then, to quote the Reverend Mike Huckabee, “God showed up.”

I know this statement is  applicable here because  the moment I began muttering under my breath, it was  as if someone had blown a whistle.  A red haired woman drove up in a tan SUV filled with bags and bags of food she collected from Congregation Agudas Achim in Kingston.  Harriet Kazansky unloaded enough canned and boxed food to get us through the day with some food left over!

One December, the Wednesday after Christmas, to be exact, John Mower drove up with a car trunk filled with canned vegetables for the pantry.  What a gift!  Our pantry was completely bare that December.  Then, the next day, along came another trunk load.  He finally quit after three trips to the pantry.  He filled the shelves for the next pantry day.

One Tuesday morning in the pantry, Peggy Johnson was upset because she didn’t have enough food to prepare the take out bags for the fourteen families she delivered food to every week.  Food had been scarce and this week the take out area seemed  empty.  A large man suddenly walked in the door carrying an extremely large box filled with canned and boxed food.  A Kingston fireman who grew up in the Woodstock area, he made Peggy promise to never reveal his name.  However, she didn’t have to keep his gift a secret:  in one trip down the pantry hallway, carrying a box large enough to hold everything needed, he single handedly provided all the food for the home bound families that week.  Our pantry has never heard from him since.

In the pantry hallway, we had an Item of Dignity closet.  where shoppers could take a roll of toilet paper and one other item each time they shopped.  We were forbidden by the building committee to have clothing in this closet.

One Wednesday afternoon I noticed a pair of new boots.  I have no idea where they came from.  They certainly didn’t come in disguised as deodorant or shampoo.  Anyway, Prasida needed a pair of winter boots.  One of the volunteers took them off the shelf.

“Prasida, can you wear wear these boots?”  Prasida came over to the closet, looked them over, and put them on.

“Ahhh – a perfect fit!  Thank you Amma!  Now I won’t have cold feet this winter in my summer sandals.”

At one point, I was reading Doreen Virtue’s book “Archangels and Ascended Masters”.  One night I read about Saint Therese, also known as the Little Flower.  The story goes that if one prays to St. Therese, she will send a rose as a sign that the request has been heard.  The next day, I found a rose on the pantry floor as I walked into the room.

But, the real miracle happened repeatedly in the pantry as the shoppers and volunteers both began to heal and change and grow from the community, their commitment, and the experiences in the pantry.  When people first started coming to the pantry, either to volunteer or shop, they were focused inward on their own problems, issues, health.  After a short time, they began to focus on their friends in the pantry.  They became concerned about something bigger than themselves and their private struggles.

In short…they became new.

Thanks for reading this blog/book.  The stories are true.  The people are real.

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The book is still in progress!  It’s going to happen!


Tara Sanders Teaches Trauma Sensitive Yoga



Many people coming to a pantry or soup kitchen  have given up on their stories.  They’ve lost their voices.  With trauma-sensitive yoga classes, they have an opportunity to change the stories themselves.  They can add new chapters.

Tara Sanders, a Woodstock based yoga instructor, is the program director in the nonprofit Exhale to Inhale.

Exhale to Inhale yoga works to empower survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to heal through yoga.  Exhale to Inhale yoga guides women through postures, breathing, and meditation.  Taught in trauma-sensitive style, practitioners are enabled to ground themselves in

their bodies

their strength

their stillness.

As this happens, they connect to themselves and work toward empowerment and worthiness.  This practice can be transformational for survivors of sexual abuse and domestic violence when they shed the cloak of victimhood.

This is extremely important for people working and shopping in pantries because many survivors of domestic and sexual violence are found in these communities. The influence of this trauma is great.  Add to this trauma another layer of





serious illnesses to include mental illness

and you have a person who is finally voiceless.

Finally, the classes are free.  Many attending these classes have absolutely no money at all.

Healers and body workers have long known that when the body is traumatized, the event is stored in the muscles.

Tara teaches the classes without music.  She does not touch the students to correct a posture.  Lights remain on throughout the class.  These sessions offer survivors an opportunity to reclaim their lives through the healing and grounding of yoga.

Tara uses the yoga classes to help her students feel safe, strong, and in the present moment.  As she teaches, she is a conduit for healing, and healthful programs in our community.

Exhale to Inhale is a New York-based nonprofit offering free weekly yoga classes to survivors of domestic and sexual assault.  As an introduction to our area, Tara will teach free public yoga classes on Saturdays from 11 am to noon at the Center for Creative Education, 15 Railroad Ave, in Kingston.

After June 20, Exhale to Inhale yoga will be offered free of charge to women in area shelters.

Thanks for reading this blog.

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Thurman Greco


Are You Afraid in the Pantry ?

“Are you ever afraid in the pantry?” the woman asked. She was at a talk I gave about hunger. “No.” I answered. “Never. Not in the pantry. The pantry is a safe haven.”
But, I did understand her question. It went much deeper than fear in the pantry. This woman was reaching out. We live in perilous times. ISIS, police, illness, hurricanes, rapists, purse snatchers, you name it. Danger appears to be everywhere around us.

Many, many people live in fear. Many of those are afraid to voice their fears.
When I write about specific health issues on my reflexology blog, fear is almost always a factor.
Well, there are things we can all do to cope. There’s no need to live a life feeling vulnerable.
For starters, we can protect ourselves. I practice several different forms of protection.

Every Saturday morning, promptly at 9:30, I can be found entering the Fitness Connection in Kingston where I study self defense under trainer Paul LaCroix. I’m there for an hour each week learning finger jabs, wrist escapes, double wrist escapes, elbow smashes, kicks, bear hug escapes, and ground defense techniques. Paul teaches new things every week. Basically, he’s teaching me that my elbows and knees are weapons to be used in case of attack or assault……
Paul’s classes are a lot more fun than doing repetitions in a gym, that’s for sure. And, the added bonus is that I feel as if I’m prepared for an unknown assailant.
And, of course, I feel as if I’m going to be a bit of a surprise for anyone who thinks that as a 70+ year old cotton top, I’ll be an easy mark.

I’ll be blogging more in the future about self protection techniques. We all need these tools because it’s important to feel safe both physically and spiritually.

In the meantime, you’re invited to join Paul’s Saturday morning class. It’s ongoing and it’s adaptable to different age, strength, and skill level.
See you there!

Can you spare a jar of peanut butter?

February 14, 2015.  02 degrees.  Snow.

What a gig.  It was pretty much the same last year but memories are short and we forgot what it feels like to have numb fingers, toes, noses, ears.  Only, this year was different.  This year we had more volunteers working shorter hours at the table:  Barbara, Garrett, Joan, Kerin, Louise, Prasida, Susanne.

Prasida sat at the head table near the grocery store entrance the entire time…as she always does.  She’s the stem winder.  In this case, the weather being what it was, it was more like she was beating the drum in the belly of the slave ship.

It wasn’t quite that bad though.  When the weather got really cold, she cancelled Friday.

“I’m afraid one of us is going to freeze to death at the table.” she said.  We laughed hysterically at her joke because the cold made us giddy.  But, really, most of us are too old to be out in the elements at this temperature.

“We’re hoping you’ll take a moment to share a little $$$ or food for the hungry” could be heard repeated throughout the day by the volunteers.  Shoppers approached the table with open wallets as they hurried into the warm building. Even at this temperature, we saw an occasional person without a coat.

We know the shoppers, the employees, the bus drivers, the taxi drivers.  We enjoy visiting with everyone each month.  With a table and 2 chairs at both entrances, there’s almost always an extra seat for a visitor to join for a chat.  When you don’t see someone for a month, you need to catch up on the news:

who’s sick,

who’s well,

whose car got fixed,

how the job is going…or not going

what’s happening at some other pantry or soup kitchen.

We did miss one very special person this month:  the homeless woman who spends her days at the Walmart.  I wonder where (or if) she’s keeping warm in this frigid weather.

So, the big news this month is the cooold.   Prasida folded up our tables about 2:30 on Saturday afternoon.  We remarked to each other that the weather was also pretty awful last February and we stuck it out because we had no choice.  This year we had a choice because of the many people who answered our hunger appeal in December.  Thank you for your generosity.

We’ll be paying catch up though.  We’re planning to stay a few extra hours at our drives in May and June.  If you missed us on Friday, please drop by our tables on March 12, 13, and 14th.  Hopefully the weather will be just a bit warmer then.

Thanks again for your generosity.  Without your participation, we could never do the job we do.  We fed 4188 households consisting of 8190 people in 2014.  We could never, ever, not in a million years have done this job without your support.

Thank you!

Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco

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And…it’s Walmart time again!

Pantry HND 3“Just asking for  food to feed the hungry.”

“Thank you for your donation”.


Each of us  working for the pantry outside the Walmart has a different introduction we use when we speak to the shoppers.  We’ve been outside the Walmart monthly since last fall.  The only month we didn’t stand outside the entrance was December when the Salvation Army puts out its volunteer ringing the bell.

In February, the temperature was 2 degrees.  Standing outside the store in July, we all commented that the broiling heat was better than the cold.

But, really, in our hearts of hearts, we don’t care what day it is, what the time is, what the temperature is.  What matters is that we’re outside the entrance and it’s our favorite place to be.

No, I’m not lying.  I totally adore being outside the Walmart.  We’ve made friends with everyone:




On Friday, a young couple came up to show off their brand new baby who wasn’t even here yet at our September visit.

One of my favorite people at the Walmart is a homeless woman who always manages to bring us a can of food.

Employees drop by throughout the day to see if we’re okay.

In the midst of all the community, we’re raising $$$ to buy food to keep the pantry open another month.  And…that’s no small job.  Our census rises every month.  Last month, we served 800 people.

For a young pantry, just a little over a year old, to have the food and funds to feed 800 people is something to be extremely proud of.  Reservoir Food Pantry volunteers can do this because they know how to focus on the task at hand.

Prasida, Bob, Louise, Barbara, and Garrett know how to focus on feeding the people.  The focus is completely “with us” all three days.

This focus offers opportunity to:

really enjoy what we’re doing.

set goals.

bond with the people we meet.

keep our pantry open.

As the coordinator, I’m often asked:  “Who sponsors your pantry?”

Thank you to everyone at the Walmart, both customers and employees.  Without you, we wouldn’t be able to feed 800+ people every month.  When we feed the hungry, we strengthen our whole community.  We couldn’t do this without your support.

Thank you for reading this blog/book.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greco


Kingston has a new Farm Stand!

How long has it been since –

you bit into a juicy, delicious peach?

you ate a gorgeous red apple?

had a piece of homemade apple pie?

had a serving of home cooked beets?

Wait no more!

Fresh fruits and vegetables (picked on Monday), are now distributed  Tuesday mornings in the  parking lot of People’s Place Food Pantry and Thrift Store at the corner of St. James and Broadway  in Kingston, New York.

This is the new paradigm at work!  Anyone can get the food.  Just be there when it opens at 10 on Tuesday mornings.  No questions are asked.  No identification is necessary.  Take this delicious, nutritious food home, prepare it how you want, and eat it.

A new project of the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley,   People’s Place was chosen as the first Farm Stand in Ulster County because

it’s got that generous parking lot,

it’s in a grocery store desert,

it’s in Kingston.

Last week, the first week ever for the Farm Stand, brought 565 people to enjoy  this gorgeous food.  It was, every bit of it, fresh food, grown in our own Hudson Valley.

Our tax dollars at work in the 21st century.

Thank you for reading this blog/book.

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Peace and food for all.

Thurman Greo