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Food insecurity

The Bloomingdale Food Pantry (part of the Bloomingdale Library) is open all the time. Its location is generously provided by the owners of Hex and Hop Brewery and Taproom. (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

I may be insecure about a lot of things, but one thing is certain: Food is not one of them. I have an incredible relationship with food. It comforts me. It allows me to show gratitude. I can grow it. I create family traditions through the use of it. I can share it.

I grew up with stories of my grandfather, a Scottish immigrant left at an orphanage along with his younger siblings soon after their arrival to America. He later ran away and lived on the streets of Brooklyn, where hunger was a daily occurrence. He said the only time he ever got three meals a day was when he lied about his age to enlist in the Army. Later he opened a market and owned a few apartment buildings because he never wanted to be without food and shelter again. There are too many stories to get into here, the one constant was he never turned anyone away who couldn’t pay their bill. He remembered what desperation felt like.

I just wanted to share that there are a lot of people who aren’t used to asking for help. We have people in and around our communities who are struggling in unforeseen ways. This is all our new normal. This isn’t a time to put people down for not finding work. This is a time for us to listen to people who are struggling and figure out ways to help. 

My children have never been hungry. They may not have always been given what they wanted or their meals were simple, but they have never experienced hunger. (I’m not talking teenage boy hunger when the week’s groceries are eaten on the way home from the store.) They have seen friends and neighbors struggle with choices between food and paying bills, food and rent, food and day care. Now people have children at home for online learning adding to an already overstretched budget. 

Even if you aren’t in a position to share a meal or volunteer at a food pantry, or don’t have time to help at a food giveaway, please stop shaming people for trying to put food on their table. We do not know everyone’s circumstances. Please be kind. This is going to be a long winter with lots of concerns, and knowing there is someone out there panicking about food doesn’t have to be one of them. If you are too embarrassed to ask for help, please reach out to me. I will make sure you have food, and I will be discreet. I am always grateful for the lessons my grandfather taught me. I didn’t experience his struggles, but I will never forget his appreciation for the most basic amenities. Please stay safe, fed and warm. 

Some area food pantries include: 

¯ Bloomingdale Food Pantry: self-serve, grab and go (open all the time)

¯ Joint Council of Economic Opportunity, Saranac Lake High School Door 17, 518-897-1446: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. by appointment 

¯ Elizabethtown Community Food Shelf, 518-873-6521: Monday and Thursday, 5-7 p.m. 

¯ Jay/Wilmington Ecumenical Food Pantry, 518-946-7192: Thursday, 4-6 p.m. 

¯ St. Paul’s-Assumption Food Pantry, Vermontville: 518-569-1619, second or third Thursday of the month (Call to be sure.)

¯ Lake Placid Ecumenical Food Pantry, St. Agnes Church, 518-523-9620: Friday 9 a.m. to noon 

¯ Saranac Lake Interfaith Food Pantry: Saturday, 10 a.m. to noon.

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