December 12, 2012

Feeding the Hungry

Those of you reading in the Syracuse area are probably aware of the current challenging situation being faced by one of the food pantries in our area.  The Assumption Food Pantry, which regularly serves around 400 families on the north side of the city, is facing a very difficult financial situation, and without $108,000, might have to close at the end of the year.

In a remarkable display of charity, a 'huge' car dealer has offered a $50,000 matching pledge, to encourage others to jump in and help out. One of the local media companies is flooding the airways with publicity, and dozens of other local businesses are helping out.  Just today, a local grocer delivered $12,000 worth of food, paid for with money raised from his customers and family.

I'm constantly impressed by the generosity of folks here.  Benefits for people facing overwhelming medical conditions regularly pull in thousands of dollars; golf events can raise in the six figures; and major local charities are incredibly fortunate to have signature events that bring in a half million dollars or more.  Rarely does a request for help fall on deaf ears.

But did you know that there are at least 70 food pantries in Onondaga County? That's how many pantries the Inter-religious Food Consortium (IFC) works with.  The IFC was formed in the early 1980's and serves as a network for the local pantries, as well as offering other services. 

In addition to the IFC, Food Bank of CNY is a critical player in the local fight against hunger. With a service area stretching from the St Lawrence to Chenango County, FBCNY supplies local food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters, partnering with over 270 emergency food programs.  I encourage you to read more about their services, and the issue of hunger in Central New York.

It looks like the chances are very good that the Assumption pantry will stay open.  And I hope that, in the process of saving Assumption's pantry, we don't end up putting extra financial strain on the other programs who are fighting every day donations. 

Would the $50K matching grant serve everyone better if it had been spread out over 5 or 10 or 20 pantries, instead of  being dedicated to just one? Will we be able to sustain this level of support throughout the year, not just during the holidays?  After all, the need will still be there after the cameras have been turned off, after our hearts have been tugged in a different direction.  And more importantly, will we ever turn the corner on hunger in CNY? 

Only time will tell.  For now, though, let's be grateful for what we have, and for what we can do to help others.

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