It’s not news that times are hard, especially in Bridgeport, which straddles the Madison-Onondaga county line.
Just ask Patti Hedrick; she sees it firsthand. Hedrick is the coordinator of the Bridgeport Food Pantry, which operates out of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church.
“I’m getting between eight and 10 new families every single month,” Hedrick said. “Some of them work, yes, but their jobs aren’t paying enough to support their families. It’s either pay the rent or the mortgage or eat. It’s very bad here in Bridgeport.”
The food pantry, which is affiliated with the Food Bank of Central New York, serves between 150 and 165 families a month in the towns of Cicero, Manlius and Sullivan. That number spikes to near 300 around Thanksgiving and Christmas. In 2010, the pantry provided 67,000 meals, an increase of 14 percent over 2009.
The facility’s food budget is around $55,000 a year, and Hedrick was finding it hard to meet that goal with more and more families seeking aid, rising food prices and declining donations.
“I think everyone should really support their local food pantries, because they’re really in need,” she said. “I’ve been with this one for 15 years. We started bagging up 30 boxes of food. Now I have two books full of clients, and I bet you I have 300 pages full of names. They don’t all come every month, but they’re there. Food prices are going up, too, so it costs us more money, and the bills are astronomical.”
The pantry has an Election Day spaghetti dinner fundraiser as well as a corned beef and cabbage dinner on St. Patrick’s Day, but they needed a large fundraiser to fill their coffers. That’s when Hedrick came up with the idea to race plastic ducks in Chittenango Creek, located right behind the church. People “adopt” a duck, then set it loose in the creek. The owner of the duck that crosses the finish line first wins a prize, and all proceeds go to the pantry.