Food Bank of the Hudson Valley
The Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, located in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, is a branch food bank of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. Together with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, it distributes 20 million pounds of food annually to more than 1,000 member agencies in 23 counties. The Food Bank of the Hudson Valley is responsible for six counties and 360 agencies, of which about 150 receive ShopRite Partners In Caring (PIC) funding. According to Ron Van Warmer, Associate Director at the Food Bank, the number of agencies joining the food bank continues to grow every day, which is evidence of the worsening economic condition that many people have found themselves in after the economic crash of 2008.
Still, Mr. Van Warmer chooses to stay positive, focusing on ShopRite Partners In Caring’s support of the food bank and its partner agencies. He says partner agencies are always enthusiastic upon receiving PIC funding. “I used to get all these calls asking who they can thank. People were so excited. Now I put it on the [disbursement] letter. They can thank ShopRite directly,” he said with a laugh.
One of the local charities supported by the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley is TOUCH in Middletown, New York.
Together Our Unity Can Heal, better known as TOUCH, started out as a food pantry in the late 1980’s serving those with HIV/AIDS during the height of the AIDS epidemic. At that time, CEO and Executive Director Robert Maher explains, they didn’t worry about the nutritional value of the food, as their main concern was having their clients put on as much weight as possible. As AIDS medication improved and clients began to live longer, they contracted other illnesses, such as diabetes, as side effects of the medication – increasing the need for more careful meal planning. Today, TOUCH serves low-income individuals with all types of chronic illnesses in Sullivan, Ulster, Orange and Rockland counties. While broadly defined as a food pantry, TOUCH is much more, providing comprehensive nutrition planning. All clients meet with a nutritionist, and take cooking classes that help them learn to prepare meals that meet their specific dietary requirements. “It’s much more than a food pantry. It’s a way of life. And we couldn’t do it without funding from ShopRite Partners In Caring.”
Our Father’s Kitchen in Monroe, New York also received funding and support from ShopRite Partners In Caring through the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley.
Our Father’s Kitchen is a soup kitchen, started in 2009 by the Parish of the Sacred Heart as a response to declining economic conditions in the community. On any given Wednesday, folks come to the Kitchen for a hot meal, served free of charge. In addition to filling empty stomachs, Our Father’s Kitchen aims to fill empty hearts as well, citing socialization for the lonely and disenfranchised as part of their mission. They also act as a referral service, directing clients to the proper government agencies so they can get the help they need. Outreach Coordinator Betsey Johnson says that the ShopRite Partners In Caring funding has allowed their soup kitchen to purchase more fresh, nutritious, quality food for their soup kitchen. “Vegetables, pork loin, tilapia…sometimes the people who visit can’t believe what we’re able to serve.”