December 14, 2012

Sidebar: Feeding the Hungry

Just a few thoughts to add, relative to my post earlier this week on the situation at the Assumption Food Pantry on Syracuse's North Side.

First, a note about the car dealer:  Billy Fucillo Sr, a larger than life local guy known for using the word 'huge' as his mantra -- huge financing, huge sales, huge leases, huge contests, huge inflatable gorillas, huge everything -- has dealerships not only across New York but also in Florida. It seems this is not his first time with this type of donation; according to reports, he matched Salvation Army Red Kettle donations in Cape Coral, and he also made a $50,000 donation to a food bank there.  I get that it fits in with the whole 'huge' thing - make some noise, make a splash - but it also makes a huge difference in people's lives in a way that winning a car in a contest doesn't.  Kudos to Fucillo and his son Billy Jr. for their generosity.

I mentioned Food Bank of CNY, the critical gatekeeper for food donation and hunger relief programs throughout an 11-county area.  Local individuals, businesses and organizations regularly help FBCNY; here are some examples.
  • They partnered with the new Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant  at Destiny USA; the restaurant donated about 95 cents of every dollar taken in during their grand opening events.
  • The Perishable Partnership Program, where businesses such as Walmart and Sam's Clubs donate thousands of pounds of fresh food that would otherwise have been discarded. 
  • Rome's Wagner Farms recently donated almost 28,000 pounds of fresh winter produce, which can be scarce for families served by local pantries.  We reach for cans and jars, but fresh foods are at least as important.
An article in yesterday's Post-Standard mentioned the consolidation of some of the North Side food pantries.  Back in October, three pantries (St John's, Holy Trinity, and Wesminster Presbyterian) merged into one, becoming the All Faiths food pantry. The folks involved point out that consolidation is not for everyone -- and we see that all the time when agencies from neighboring towns or villages attempt to consolidate services.  Sometimes the deals are appoved, by many times they're not.  In this case, the combined pantry seems to be working for the organizations, the volunteers, and the clients they serve.

Finally, yesterday I received the winter edition of Hunger & Hope, FBCNY's newsletter, which you can view on their website. Executive Director Thomas Slater's message regarding whether goals were met is both sobering and uplifting.
This year, with the help of our new facility and the distribution of 12,273,003 pounds of food, the answer is a resounding YES!  The average of one million pounds of nutritious foods distributed monthy ensures families are fed.  The fact is, despite new families coming into the emergency food network for the first time, we saw a significant number of familes leaving the network and finding jobs and indepdendence.
Food for thought for all of us.

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