East Syracuse: Helping the Hungry

Soup kitchens provide hot meals to families or individuals on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Most of its clients are unemployed or homeless. Food Bank of CNY currently helps supply food to 35 soup kitchens.

Emergency shelters provide temporary housing on a nightly or monthly basis to single men and women, seniors, youth and families who are homeless. Shelters provide food on a regular basis, typically serving two meals a day. Food Bank currently helps 12 shelters in central New York.

Nutrition programs

The mission of Food Bank doesn't stop with food distribution. Another focus is on nutrition education through programs such as Kids Caf (c) and Food Sense.

"In a sense, we're a health promotion agency that distributes food," Slater said.

The Kids Caf (c) is a program that provides children with hot nutritious meals during after-school programs at community and recreation centers.

"[Kids] come in after school, get help with their homework, academic tutoring; they get physical exercise, [and] they get a hot meal," Slater said. "So food becomes a tool to bring these kids off the street and into the neighborhood centers."

Children who participate in this program learn about the benefits of good nutrition and exercise. It is geared to motivate them to "eat well and play hard" every day.

Food Sense is a food buying club where the organization collects about $15 in cash or food stamps at the beginning of the month from a person or family, and at the end of the month delivers to them a food package worth $25 to $30.

This program spans 30 communities in CNY. Its purpose is to increase self-sufficiency and support the transition from assistance to independence.

"You've got people investing in feeding themselves," Slater said. "You've got the ability to move people out of the network by allowing them to invest in their own resources."

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