As we enjoy our bountiful Thanksgiving holiday meals and dream of the Christmas feast, it is a good time to remember that not everyone is as fortunate or as well fed.
This is the time of year when people are filled with the seasonal spirit of giving. How about giving to local food banks this year? In thinking of the problem of hunger, most people tend to think of the starving children in third world countries. While we don't see this level of starvation in our communities, hunger does have a profound impact. According to the Hunger Action Network of New York State's website, www.hungeractionnys.org, "Over 904,884 New Yorkers rely on Emergency Food Programs, or soup kitchens and food pantries, each week ... In the last decade the number of Emergency Food Programs has steadily increased. In 1987 there were 1,884 pantries and kitchens. Today, there are approximately 3,000 pantries and kitchens."
According to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, "malnourished pregnant women are more likely to have stillborn or low-birth weight babies. Inadequately nourished infants and children are apt to have learning problems and more illnesses. Adults who are hungry are less energetic and productive, making it difficult to find and keep a job or care for children. Malnourished elderly persons are less able to prevent illness and enjoy good health."
In the spirit of helping local groups, I am offering my District Offices as collection sites for local food pantries throughout November and December. My Amsterdam office will be collecting donations on behalf of Montgomery County Catholic Charities and my Johnstown office will be collecting for St. John's Episcopal Church and the Council of Churches in Johnstown. This way, all donations stay local. St. John's and the Council of Churches work closely with Fulton County Department of Social Services to determine needs throughout the entire county. Montgomery County Catholic Charities' pantry serves roughly 150 people a week. This past summer, they experienced a food shortage and closed for several days. This highlights the importance of donations.
Drop-off boxes for donations will be located at my offices at: 2430 Riverfront Center, Amsterdam, NY; and City Hall, 33-41 E. Main St., Johnstown, NY. Catholic Charities also accepts donations at its office at 1 Kimball Street, Amsterdam, on Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call my Amsterdam office at 843-2188 and my Johnstown office at 762-3733.
If you would rather donate to a food pantry that you are more familiar with, I encourage you to do so. The following is a typical shopping list for most food pantries: tuna fish, canned or dry soup, canned vegetables, canned or dried fruit, canned beef stew or beans, dried pasta and sauces, dry or evaporated milk, peanut butter, jelly, crackers, tea or coffee, cereal, personal hygiene products, band-aids, deodorant, tooth paste, diapers, and baby food.