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Food Programs Help Support Families in the Summer - Meals Available for Young and Old Alike this Summer

Written By Michael on 7/18/15 | 7/18/15

By Maureen Blanchard

COBLESKILL - Feeding families during the summer is difficult for many families.

With children home from school, there are more mouths to feed at more meals. Families don’t see an increase in their SNAP benefits or in their salaries during the summer months to make it easier to feed their families. There may be more demands on the family finances to spend money on activities to entertain children and keep them busy and out of trouble as well. These added costs may take away money that families would need to spend on food. Fortunately there are many resources in the community to assist families with extra food during these next couple of months.

Schoharie Fresh the online farmers’ market will be running a promotion program for families who use SNAP. From now until the end of August for every $10 a family spends in SNAP they will earn $5 in Veggie Bucks that can be used to purchase vegetables or fruits at either that visit or at a future visit. This will hopefully encourage families to purchase some fresh produce from local farmers through Schoharie Fresh.

What this could look like a customer could purchase turnips, swiss chard, sugar snap peas and lettuce for $11 and then get a quart of strawberries for free with their veggie bucks. Everything would need to be ordered in advance but they could use the veggie bucks the day they earn them or save them for a later date to purchase veggies later in the month when they may have used all their SNAP benefits.
Tessa Brinks says that “Schoharie Fresh makes it easier for her to budget her money because she knows how much she is spending on vegetables through Schoharie Fresh. Plus the vegetables last longer than typical store bought produce and there is greater variety in season.”

Typically farmers will harvest what is needed either Thursday afternoon or Friday morning for Schoharie Fresh and customers pick up Friday afternoon.

For those not using SNAP benefits who may want to help families out, you can purchase through Schoharie Fresh and pick up at Bethany Lutheran Church in Central Bridge or Schoharie Presbyterian Church in Schoharie. A portion of the proceeds of the sales for these locations is then returned to the churches to supplement the food pantries. Pick up in Central Bridge is on Friday from 4-5:15 and in Schoharie also on Friday from 5:30-6:30. Funding to assist Schoharie Fresh with this comes from United Way of the Greater Capital Region. The goal is to promote food security for families who may be struggling to put food on the table.

Schoharie Fresh was initially funded through Creating Healthy Places, a grant from New York State Department of Health. The goal was to increase access to fresh produce and encourage people to eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Schoharie Fresh is located at SUNY Cobleskill in the Red Barn on Route 7 west of Agway. Pick up at the Red Barn is Friday from 3-5:30 PM. Schoharie Fresh sells locally produced foods and products from Schoharie County. Orders must be placed by Wednesday at 11:59 PM in order to guarantee products available on Friday. Please go to www.schohariefresh.com or email us at schohariefresh@gmail.com.

There are also several community meal programs throughout the County. In Cobleskill, Zion Lutheran Church will be offering lunch each day (Monday through Friday) to anyone who wants to join them from July 6th- August 21st. They will be open from 11:00am-1 PM and are always looking for volunteers and donations to support this program. They will feed adults as well as children to help families stretch their food dollars.

In Jefferson, Jefferson Central School will offer a Summer Food program at the school serving both breakfast and lunch through the month of July for children under the age of 18. Hours for breakfast are from 8:15-9 am and for lunch from 10:45-11:30.

In Middleburgh, the Joshua Project will coordinate the lunches held at the high school cafeteria beginning June 29th. Lunch will be served between 12 noon-1:00PM Monday through Friday until the end of August. Everyone is welcome – no need to be alone. Volunteers and donations are still needed to make this third year a success.

In addition to the meal site, a backpack program is being coordinated from Middleburgh that will provide 200 backpacks to children all over Schoharie County who may not have enough to eat.

In Schoharie, the Joshua Project is also coordinating lunches at the Schoharie Presbyterian Church Monday through Friday. Lunches will be served from 12 noon to 1PM until the end of July. As with Middleburgh, everyone is welcome and there are no age limitations.

Donations and volunteers are still being recruited and those interested should contact the food pantry at the Presbyterian Church. Jean Sparks said that lunches include sandwiches on white or wheat bread including turkey, ham and peanut butter with fresh vegetables, fresh fruit and something for dessert.

All the summer meal sites are looking for donations of produce. If you have extra in your garden please consider sharing it with others. For more information, please contact Maureen Blanchard, Project Coordinator of Creating Healthy Places who will direct you to the person in charge of each site at 518 255-5294. Let us all work together and make sure no one goes hungry this summer if we can help it.
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