Those who either volunteer at or take advantage of local food pantries know the demand there is high. Did you know that?
It's easy, amid our busy lives, to lose sight of the fact that many of your neighbors would have a hard time putting food on the table if not for local charity services.
Directors of some local pantries, like those in Tupper Lake and Gabriels, say they're currently getting enough donations to meet the need. Others, like those in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, are low on both food and funding.
All of them report seeing more people needing food.
"Thank God we're in a good place, but we're constantly getting more families," said Barbara Marshall, who directs the St. Paul's/Assumption Food Pantry site in Gabriels.
"The number of families has grown throughout the year, although we had a slump last month - I don't know why," Betty Maus, who directs the Tupper Lake Community Food Pantry, told us Thursday. "We seem to be able to hold our own. We still get a lot of donations from the community."
Saranac Lake Interfaith Food Pantry
P.O. Box 532
Saranac Lake, NY 12983
Tupper Lake Community Food Pantry
179 Demars Blvd., Lot 2
Tupper Lake, NY 12986
Lake Placid Ecumenical Food Pantry
P.O. Box 1475
Lake Placid, NY 12946
St. Paul's/Assumption Food Pantries
Site 1, Vermontville
9 Tyler Road
Vermontville, NY 12989
Site 2, Gabriels
P.O. Box 96
Rainbow Lake, NY 12976
Linda Young, who runs Lake Placid's Ecumenical Food Pantry, said the low stock of food and funds worries her as she gears up to give out Thanksgiving baskets a month from now.
The number of children seen at the Saranac Lake Interfaith Food Pantry has increased by 13 percent in the past year and the number of seniors by 11 percent, volunteer Linda Bonaduce wrote in a letter to the editor we published earlier this month. Meanwhile, she said, the pantry's federal grant decreased by more than 25 percent.
Mrs. Bonaduce was writing primarily to thank Saranac Lake community members for their recent generosity that will keep the pantry stocked through the end of the year. She also said, however, that the federal grant that's supposed to carry the pantry until June 2014 has already been exhausted. For the next eight months, it'll have to be local funds that feed the hungry in this community.
Local people have been generous, but they'll have to step it up further.
Well, if that's what we must do, then we must. One of a community's chief responsibilities is to help everyone get enough to eat; those with more than enough give from their excess to provide the basics for those in need. We must uphold that duty, which is universal to humanity and is repeated throughout religious scriptures.
One way to do this is to donate to your local food pantry. You can mail a check (addresses are in a box accompanying this editorial), or you can drop off food at one of the boxes at local grocery stores and churches.
CROP Hunger Walk
Another way to help the hungry - here and all over the world - is to help with this Sunday's CROP Hunger Walk in Saranac Lake. It starts at noon in the Great Hall of the First Presbyterian Church, 57 Church St. Walkers are invited afterward to share a simple meal of soup and bread - as much as many people on this planet can dare to hope for.
Three-quarters of the CROP Walk donations will go to Church World Service's effort to feed the hungry worldwide. One-quarter will go to the Saranac Lake Interfaith Food Pantry. Last year's walk raised almost $4,000, with more than $900 going to the food pantry.
You can donate to a walker you know, to First Presbyterian (call 518-891-3401 for more information) or at hunger.cwsglobal.org. (Click on "CROP Hunger Walk" in that site's top menu, and then find New York and Saranac Lake.)
The annual CROP Hunger Walk was started in Saranac Lake in 1986 by the local Ecumenical Council. This program began in 1969 in North Dakota and is, as the Los Angeles Times described it 2009, "viewed by many as the granddaddy of charity walks." Now there are more than 1,600 CROP Walks each year around the U.S.
Hunger is a topic we tend to ignore, yet it's very real. Feeding the hungry is a constant social responsibility for everyone.