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Letters: Give the gift of local foods

To the editor:

Fellow community members, I am writing to ask each of you to honor your loved ones this holiday season by giving the gift of local food to an emergency food program. The gift of local food benefits many: the hungry, the rural economy, and the local farmer. Also, giving a gift in honor of a loved one is empowering.

Hunger is on the rise and the statistics are alarming. In many of our rural communities, an estimated 18 percent of families with small children are living at or below the poverty rate. The Food Bank of Central New York provides over 10 million pounds of food annually, the equivalent of 7.8 million meals - to hungry families, children and the elderly within eleven area counties (foodbankcny.org). There are 247 emergency food programs across Central New York in need of your donations.

When you give the gift of local foods (or gift certificate for local foods) to an emergency food program, you are giving to your community in many ways: you are ensuring that families eat healthy and nutritious meals. Every dollar you spend for local food goes to a local farmer, and that dollar circulates through your community. Agriculture creates jobs. Using agriculture's estimated multiplier effect of $2.25 per $1, a gift of $50 for local food translates into a gift of $112.50.

A number of emergency food programs accept donations ear marked for local foods. The Taste n See Soup Kitchen in Oxford, NY is just one example. Charles McMullen, the program's director will provide a letter to the person that you are honoring with your gift. This letter will document where the food was purchased, and how much food was purchased. A true advocate of hunger and the rural community, Charles makes a point of purchasing locally grown foods when possible.

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