Wednesday, November 30, 2011

State providing $1.6 million to food banks

ALBANY -- The state is giving $1 million in grants to eight New York food banks, as well as an additional $620,000 to food pantries in flood-hit areas such as Broome, Chemung and Delaware counties, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

Also Wednesday, the governor launched a statewide initiative called "Help Your Neighbor" to encourage New York residents and businesses to donate to regional food banks. The food banks distribute goods to 5,000 soup kitchens, food pantries, shelters and other emergency programs, reaching about three million people a year.

"The economy has been very difficult, as we all know. We're all suffering through it. Some people are suffering more than others," Cuomo told reporters during a conference call.
"The demand on food banks is very, very high, and I encourage all New Yorkers to remember that and think of that this Thanksgiving," he said.

The prolonged poor economy in New York has boosted requests for food assistance, Cuomo said. The need for help is particularly great in parts of the state that were damaged by tropical storms Irene and Lee in late August and early September. Some donors have pulled back on their contributions because of the tough times.

"We're especially cognizant of our fellow New Yorkers who are in communities that are still rebuilding from the flood and storm damage that we had," he said.

One of the emergency allocations announced by Cuomo on Wednesday will go to the Broome County Council of Churches, which gets $60,000 for a food recovery program that had faced possible cutbacks after losing a state grant.

"This is good news," said Deacon Ed Blaine, of the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse. "This will give us time to look for other funding without threatening Broome Bounty."

Broome Bounty collects fresh food from restaurants, groceries and other suppliers that would otherwise go rotten. In turn, the food is distributed to local religious and other organizations for their soup kitchens and community meals.

In late June, the state Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program rejected an application from the Broome County Council of Churches for $70,000 a year -- one-third of its annual operating budget -- for the next five years to help fund the program. The loss of funding raised the possibility of cutbacks to the program, which the Council of Churches estimated feeds 10,000 people a month at 60 different soup kitchens and other locations.

The $1 million is from a federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Contingency Fund grant the state received in October. The $620,000 is from the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program in the current state budget, Cuomo said.

The funding is welcome, but it doesn't get to the crux of the hunger problem, said Mark Dunlea, executive director of Hunger Action Network.

"We certainly always appreciate more charity at Thanksgiving time and there's certainly a lot of need out there, so we appreciate the governor finding some extra money," he said. "I think many of us believe the solution to hunger remains economic justice and not charity."
Dunlea said the state should spend more money on hunger prevention. Hunger Action wants a $4 million increase in the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program.
Foodlink of Rochester found out Wednesday it would receive $107,000, said Julia Tedesco, director of development and strategic initiatives for the organization.
"It'll have a huge impact on the agencies and the individuals that they serve in our 10-county region," she said.

Soup kitchens in Monroe County that are member agencies are serving about 30 percent more meals than they did at this time last year, Tedesco said.
The growing need isn't isolated to urban areas, she said. Many people are turning to emergency-food providers for the first time in their lives.

Written by
Cara Matthews
Staff writer William Moyer contributed to this report.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Weis and its customers donate $39K to CHOW

WEST CORNERS -- Peanut butter. Pasta sauce. Box after box made its way into the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse's truck in front of the West Corners Weis Market.

Weis officials joined Broome County Council of Churches Executive Director Joseph Sellepack in the effort -- and not just with the loading. The Sunbury, Pa.-based supermarket chain gave CHOW a $14,000 corporate donation Monday.

The chain's Southern Tier customers also made $24,828 in donations to Southern Tier hunger organizations during the four-week Fight Hunger campaign. The nearly $39,000 total is expected to generate about 31,200 meals for the needy, said Weis District Manager Mike Umstead.

CHOW, a program of the Council of Churches, also gets price breaks for purchasing food pantry items at Weis, Sellepack said. "They give us wholesale, which adds to the gift," he said.

The donation is particularly appreciated in light of the September flooding, which ravaged the Southern Tier -- including the neighborhood near the West Corners store.

"A lot of fallout from the flood hasn't even been felt yet," such as its effect on the region's economy, Sellepack said.

Weis operates 161 stores in Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, New Jersey and West Virginia, including 11 in the Southern Tier.

Written by
Jennifer Micale

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wreath festival to benefit charity

ENDICOTT — Door D├ęcor, a wreath festival and silent auction benefiting the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, Mom’s House and the Daughters of Columbus Scholarship Fund, will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Nov. 27 at the Sons of Italy, 126 Odell Ave.

Door Wreaths are donated by area businesses, organizations and individuals for the event, which features free refreshments and music by guitarist and singer Mark Trojnar. Cash or checks only will be accepted for the wreaths and gift baskets.

For more information, contact Mary Jo Roberts at gregmaryjor@aol.com, or chairwomen Sue Bock at (607) 258-0331 or Jackie Sands at (607) 797-4222.

— Jennifer Micale

Monday, November 14, 2011

Flood the Tier Fundraiser

Some local companies are putting on a day of entertainment for people who were affected by the flood and those who want to support them.

"Flood the Tier with the Sound of Music" is a day-long event scheduled for Sunday December 11th at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena. In addition to a lineup of local musical acts, there will be bagpipers, a clown, belly dancers, the Big Guy and Santa taking pictures with kids on top of a Harley. Merrill Lynch, local Wendy's and Southern Tier Harley Davidson are covering the overhead for the event so that all of the 10 dollar admission fee can go to the Broome County Council of Churches to help flood victims.

Scott Freeman is an organizer. Freeman says "I've never experienced this before but everywhere I go I run into people saying let me know what I can do, I want to help. We don't normally get that in Broome County and Binghamton.

"The benefit runs from noon until 6 at the Arena on Sunday December 11th. Children 12 and under are free. Flood victims and relief workers can request special free vouchers at the Council of Churches offices. Tickets are available at the Arena Box Office and all Ticketmaster locations.

JFS to perform ‘Annie Jr.’

ENDICOTT — The Jennie F. Snapp Middle School music department will perform the musical “Annie Jr.” at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 and 18 in the Union-Endicott High School Auditorium.
“Annie Jr.” is a shortened version of the Broadway musical “Annie.” A donation for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse will be collected at the door from those attending the show.

The musical is directed by JFS music teacher Joe Brainard. Joe Roma is the assistant director.

— Jennifer Micale

Monday, November 7, 2011

Kenny Rogers to play benefit concert at Arena

BINGHAMTON -- Flood victims and volunteers who lent a helping hand will be treated to a concert by legendary singer Kenny Rogers during a benefit concert Dec. 15.

Proceeds from the concert, which will be held at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena, will also benefit the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, Catholic Charities and the American Red Cross, which have been providing flood relief.

"I think this is going to be a healing event for the community," said Bruce Boyea, chairman, president and CEO of Security Mutual Life Insurance Co., the event's lead sponsor.

He noted that 1,700 seats will be reserved on the Arena floor for disaster clients and volunteers. Tickets for those seats will be distributed by the flood-relief agencies, he said. For everyone else, tickets are $27 and will be available at the Arena box office.

People are still dealing with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Lee, officials noted. More than 1,000 buildings still have no power in the county, Broome County Executive Patrick Brennan said."We have a good portion of our people who aren't back to normal yet," he said.

Written by
Jennifer Micale

Food-A-Bago returns to the region

TOWN OF CHENANGO — The annual 99.1 The Whale and Wild 104 Food-A-Bago for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse will return to the region Nov. 7 through 14.
The goal is to fill a fifth-wheel camper provided by Jim’s RV with non-perishable food to benefit Broome County families. It will be parked in front of the Weis Food Market at 1290 Upper Front St., across from the Route 81 south entrance ramp. Lee Ann Taylor from the Whale Morning Show and Louie G from the Wild 104 Morning Show will live in the camper throughout the week, along with other radio personalities.

Louie G also has agreed to DJ a free dance for the school that brings the most non-perishable food, by number of items, and a free holiday party to the office or workplace that does the same. For more information, call Don Morgan, program director of WAAL, at (607) 772-8400 or Louie G at (607) 343-0874.
— Jennifer Micale

A Concert for Flood Victims at Davis College

The NEED continues to be great! The LOSS has been staggering! The COST will continue to escalate! The CALL for help goes out! Saturday, November 12th, 2011.'The Provision' a flood relief concert and benefit sponsored by Transition Records, will be held at Davis College Gymnasium beginning at 6pm, doors open at 5pm. This is a FREE event and is for the sole purpose to PROVIDE for the needs of our friends and neighbors whose lives have been suddenly and drastically changed by the flood. You will have the opportunity to be an encouragement and directly help those with needs. Our hope is that you can connect with someone in need, befriend them, and help them get reestablished. If you have experienced great loss due to the flood, come and find information for help and encouragement to carry on!

Enjoy a concert with the bands Reasons Fail, Cry of the Scapegoat, and singer/songwriter Kraig Moss as they bring a message of Hope! Several local flood relief and mission organizations such as CHOW (bring non-perishable food items to donate), Binghamton Rescue Mission, and Broome County Council of Churches will be attending and providing information and help. If you are an organized group helping flood victims and would like to attend this benefit so people with needs can find you, please call 607-651- 6382. 'The Provision' is an exciting way to be a part of the CALL for help. Even if the only thing you can provide is a hug and a listening ear, it's important to be there!