IFC begins annual holiday food drive

The Interreligious Food Consortium of Central New York's annual holiday food drive has begun.

Almost 20 local businesses are participating this year, including the Fayetteville Free Library, Bishop Grimes and Wells Fargo Advisors, which has participated in this project for more than 10 years.

"Our firm recognizes that giving back to our community is not only a responsibility, but it makes us feel good," said Paul Derrick, first vice president, investments office at Wells Fargo. "We're committed to making a positive, hands-on difference in the communities in which we live and work, and collecting food and money for the IFC's holiday drive is just one way we can help do that."

Wells Fargo Advisors, a financial services firm, has offices at Franklin Square in downtown Syracuse and at Widewaters Office Park in DeWitt.

Last year during the holidays, the IFC collected more than 18,000 pounds of non-perishable food, which goes to emergency food pantries at no cost. Currently, there are 70 food pantries and meal programs in Onondaga County that serve more than 200,000 meals per month.

"Many of the people that the food pantries serve are the working poor who struggle to meet the high costs of raising a family and the elderly on fixed incomes," said Michele Jordan, of IFC. "It is hard for them to make ends [meet] especially with the rising cost of gas and groceries."

With the help from ongoing supporters, Jordan said the consortium is also able to provide designated families participating in specific Syracuse organizations with a simple holiday meal of non-perishable items as well as a $10 to $15 gift card to make food purchases.

Statistics compiled for 2010 by the New York State Community Action Association indicate that 42.2 percent of the children in Syracuse are living in poverty. Food pantries show a 10-percent increase over last year in the number of people benefiting from the service; seasonal workers and refugees are among those returning more often, Jordan said.

The holiday drive has begun, but the IFC can use help year round. After the holidays, when donations are down, many food pantries will call the consortium for assistance, Jordan said, which the IFC offers at no cost.

If you are interested in supporting your local food pantry, or your business is interested in conducting a food drive, contact the Interreligious Food Consortium at 474-8855 regarding food and monetary donations for either a specific pantry or the IFC agency itself.

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