Rising Unemployment Means Veterans Have a Hard Time Getting By - Feed Our Vets
donate now photo

Rising Unemployment Means Veterans Have a Hard Time Getting By

Utica, New York was once a booming city that prospered from manufacturing and agriculture.  Today, like many areas of the country, Utica suffers from an unemployment rate that is close to 10% with nearly 12,000 local people looking for jobs.  For many Veterans in this hard-hit area, putting food on the table is much more difficult than it once was.

A U.S. Army Veteran, Joe, served his country for nearly twenty years and is currently unemployed.  As he looks for work, Joe struggles to bring food home to his family.  Following a tip from a friend, four months ago Joe walked into the Feed Our Vets Food Pantry in downtown Utica and found the help he needed.

“At times you need that little extra help from month to month so you can just get by with your family.  For someone like myself – I still have a sixteen year old at home –  things have definitely been tough in today’s economy.  As for the Feed Our Vets Food Pantry, it is definitely the number one factor for me and my family in staying above water.”

He is not alone in his praise for Feed Our Vets.  Eddie, a Vietnam-era Veteran said, “If you are a Veteran, they will take care of you, they will do anything to help.  It is sad that we have to come down here, but this is a great program that really makes a difference for us.”  It was the first time that Army Veteran Syrus, who suffers from chronic lung problems, has come to a Feed Our Vets pantry.  “I was surprised. They kept wanting me to take more, and it is the same food that I am eating at home.  Thankfully, now I won’t have to rely on my daughter to come and bring me food.”

The Feed Our Vets Food Pantry fills a critical need in the community and the demand for its services are growing as more and more Veterans return home from Iraq and Afghanistan.

As Joe said, “The sad part is that a lot of Veterans come back and they don’t like to admit that they need some help.”

Because Feed Our Vets is staffed by fellow Veterans, the organization finds itself in a unique position to reach out to Veterans in need.  Despite problems of their own, nearly all of the Veterans that come to the Feed Our Vets Food Pantry share a common desire to help their fellow Veterans.

“Veterans should not be kicked under the table and forgotten,” said Joe.  “They should all have this opportunity for help. They served for us, for our freedom, and it’s our turn to give back to them for the sacrifices they made.  Some Veterans need that extra help and Feed Our Vets is a great resource.  I am not just speaking for myself. I am speaking for the Veterans that came before me and those that will come after.”

Rich Synek – A Postmaster with a Critical Mission

Rich Synek is the Postmaster in the small upstate New York town of Vernon Center and he has a lofty goal – help feed the estimated three million hungry Veterans in the United States.  His journey to help Veterans in need began four years ago when one of his customers, a World War II Veteran, came to the post-office to buy a single stamp.  It was all he could afford.  After some prodding from the Postmaster, he admitted that he and his wife would endure between one and five days each month with very little to eat.  Occasionally the couple would run out of food completely.

“His story broke my heart,” said Rich, who is himself a U.S. Navy Veteran, “I called my wife Michelle, who also works at the Post Office, and that night we bought a bunch of food and I will always remember the look on his face when we delivered it to his house.”

That was the beginning of Feed Our Vets – an innovative non-profit organization and food pantry that helps Veterans and their family members in need.

“It was all word-of-mouth at first.  More and more Veterans were coming into the post office and asking us for food.  We gave out food boxes at first, then we started to give out gift certificates from a local grocery store, but we were simply overwhelmed with requests.”

Rich began to do local television, radio, and newspaper interviews and the organization and its outreach efforts grew.  Today, the Feed Our Vets Food Pantry in Utica, New York gives out over two thousand pounds of food per month to hungry Veterans.  Learning from trial and error, Feed Our Vets has developed a unique approach to helping Veterans and their families.  As Rich explains, “Our philosophy at Feed Our Vets is to allow Veterans to ‘shop’ for themselves by selecting the food they want.  Giving out food boxes can be a waste of resources because not everyone likes the same food.”

By allowing Veterans to select the food they want, the pantry operates much like a grocery store, except that instead of paying for the food they select, the Veteran needs only to have it weighed on the way out.  Feed Our Vets also provides Veterans with toiletries and other necessities that are not available with food stamps.  The Feed Our Vets approach is unique among food pantries and the fact that Feed Our Vets is staffed by fellow Veterans has allowed the organization to provide indispensible support for many Veterans in need.

“We really care about our Veterans.  We want to hear their stories and try to help them as much as we can.  We see Veterans all the way from World War II to the men and women getting home today from Iraq and Afghanistan. There are Veterans in need in every community in this country.  We know that Veterans can suffer from a number of problems including unemployment, PTSD, and physical disabilities, but at Feed Our Vets, we want to help relieve that one most-painful burden of all, the burden of being hungry.”

- Rich Synek, Founder and Executive Director, Feed our Vets


Veteran Hunger and Homeless Initiatives around the Country

Feed Our Vets is a group dedicated to monitoring the strategies and activities of organizations with its shared goal of helping hungry and homeless Veterans across the country. Feed Our Vets understands that assisting the soldiers who protect America’s freedoms is a nationwide effort, and it applauds the efforts of groups who are committed to helping Veterans overcome the challenges of adjusting to civilian life, reuniting them with friends and family and ensuring that their medical and employment needs are met.

A New Homeless Veteran Transition Program in Fort Worth

Partnering with Mental Health Department of Tarrant County and Veterans Administration, Liberty House in Ft. Worth, Texas, is ready to accept homeless Veterans in a new transition program. The effort is part of Mayor Mike Moncrief’s 10-year plan to end homelessness, and Liberty House’s goal is to reconnect former soldiers with their families and their communities.  Between 55 and 75 Veterans will be served each year, and the program will also provide support services that include recovery and employment help.

Rehabilitation Program in Philadelphia

The Perimeter, a new program at the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service Educational Center, is a rehabilitation and training program with the goal of Veterans helping veterans.  The project will provide a hot breakfast and lunch to former soldiers, as well as laundry facilities, hygiene and general outreach. Also, a representative from the regional VA office will regularly be at the Center to give assistant on Veterans claims, benefits and legal help.

Agriculture Training in Michigan

The Vets to Ag program at Michigan State University, which is funded by No Worker Left Behind, is seeking to re-train Veterans for new careers in agriculture. The project launched in September of 2009, and is currently in its second session. One group of Veterans spent six weeks at MSU’s Kellogg Biological Station near Kalamazoo, and took classes led by the school’s professors. Coursework includes collegiate-level training in pesticides, soil science and Spanish.

Gainesville Grand Opening, Full Service Homeless Center for Vets

The HONOR Center, a full-service homeless center for Veterans had its grand opening in Gainesville, Florida, and among its host of services, will offer counseling, job skills training and therapy. The program will also include dormitory-style living for female homeless Veterans called The Residence. Veterans will have up to six months of access to services, buffet dining and numerous therapeutic activities.

Denver Program Sees Veterans Homeless Double

Denver’s Homeless Veteran Reintegration Project is in its seventh year of operation, and has seen the number of Veterans seeking help double since the recent economic collapse. The program provides nearly everything, from bus tokens to work boots and clothing. Also offered are resume help, training classes and a vast network of services. The program has been a great success, and has been a recipient of the American Legion Department of Colorado’s Homeless Veteran Outreach Award.

Veteran Housing Program in Atlantic City

A new project by Community Quest Inc. seeks to turn an entire apartment complex in Atlantic City into 100% Veteran-occupied housing. Community Quest is also beginning construction on a similar conversion program in nearby Tuckerton. Both locations will have on-site staff, case management services and employment-related counseling.

All-Veteran residences in New York

The Jericho Project’s Veteran’s Initiative is constructing two new all-Veteran residences in New York, the first expansion project of its type in 16 years. Also, this project includes an expansion of the Supportive Apartment Program to include 40 units. The efforts also call for continued services for Veterans based on prior Jericho projects.

Therapy Group for Veterans in Pennsylvania

A new program called the Scratch Team aims to help keep Veterans off drugs and the dangerous path of addiction in Pennsylvania. The group, which itself is comprised of five ex-drug addict Veterans, leads a twice-monthly therapy group for returning soldiers at City Light Ministries. One of the group’s founders, who has been drug-free for 10 years, works at a nearby Veteran Affairs Medical Center, and is able to offer additional guidance, rehabilitation and counseling in their recoveries.

Veteran Stand Down in Georgia

In Georgia, the Columbus Convention and Trade Center will host Operation Stand Down, a program targeting homeless Veterans. The program is designed to give help on benefits and pension, housing, voter registration and Social Security. Certain low income and homeless Veterans can receive special legal and housing support, in addition to physical exams and screenings. Also available will be hot meals, haircuts, comfort items and clothing. Veterans can also schedule appointments with a variety of agencies for follow-up assistance.


Recent News & Newsletters

Custom Humvee Auction to Raise Funds for Veteran Hunger Programs - Friday, April 20, 2018
VFW Joins Forces to Fight Hunger -
Wondering what to do with your used car or truck? - Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Time Is Running Out to Make A Tax Deductible Donation to Feed Hungry Veterans - Friday, December 29, 2017
Mobile Pantry in Binghamtom NY Dec. 28 - Thursday, December 7, 2017
Cabot High School Construction Tech Gets New Cabot Pantry in Shape - Thursday, November 16, 2017
Give Back Giveaway Food Drive for Utica Pantry -
Bite Bakery and Cafe Donates 600 lbs. of Potatoes to Utica Pantry -
Help Feed Hungry Veteran Families this Veterans Day - Wednesday, November 8, 2017
Rep Tenney Honors Rich Synek on the House Floor - Tuesday, November 7, 2017
FOV 1 Humvee Project Update - Tuesday, September 5, 2017
CNY TV Interviews Rich Synek about Champions Contest - Friday, August 11, 2017
$10,000 for Feeding Veterans: Vote Today - Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Buy Feed Our Vets Water – Help Feed Hungry Vets - Monday, June 26, 2017
The Declutter Coach Helps Feed Our Vets Get Organized - Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Heidelberg Bread and CABVI Collaborate with Feed Our Vets to Feed Veterans - Monday, June 12, 2017
A Thank You from a Vet in Kansas - Tuesday, June 6, 2017
Help Feed Veterans in Honor of Memorial Day - Monday, May 29, 2017
May 6 Onondaga County Document Shredding Event Supports Feed Our Vets - Monday, April 24, 2017
Rooibee Red Tea Donates to Feed Our Vets - Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Feed Our Vets Opens New Veteran Food Pantry in Cabot AR - Thursday, March 23, 2017
Feed Our Vets Video Blog – Why We Do What We Do - Monday, February 6, 2017
Feed Our Vets Video Blog – How Feed Our Vets Got Started - Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Feed Our Vets – Chipotle New Hartford Fundraiser Feb. 2 - Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Stony Creek Beer Fundraiser for Feed Our Vets - Friday, December 2, 2016
Michael Beattie biked 12,000 miles to help feed veterans in need -
Happy Thanksgiving from Feed Our Vets - Thursday, November 24, 2016
Feed Our Vets Fundraiser – Chipotle – New Hartford – Tuesday, Nov. 15 - Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Feed Our Vets Fundraiser – Chipotle – Watertown – Tuesday, Dec. 13 -
Comets Basket Raffle Benefits Feed Our Vets - Friday, October 21, 2016
Track Michael Beattie’s Ride Across America for Feed Our Vets - Wednesday, July 27, 2016
Through Feed Our Vets Program, Armour Gives Back to Those Who Gave So Much - Thursday, July 7, 2016
Fresh Vets Adds Fresh Vegetables, Fruits, Milk and Eggs to Feed Our Vets Pantry Distributions - Monday, June 27, 2016
Fort Drum Soldiers March and Donate Food for Feed Our Vets -
Armour Foods Supports Feed Our Vets -
Mike Beattie ‘biking 12,000 miles to feed hungry veterans - Thursday, June 2, 2016
Highway Legends FOV Benefit in Clayton, NY, May 20-22 - Tuesday, April 19, 2016
Order Your Feed Our Vets Patch Today - Wednesday, April 13, 2016
67 Year Old Navy Veteran Will Bike Across America for Hungry Veterans - Wednesday, February 10, 2016
New Feed Our Vets Business Sponsors in Utica - Friday, February 5, 2016
Harold Connor January 29, 1937 – December 1, 2015 - Friday, December 11, 2015
It’s Giving Tuesday! – Feed Hungry Veterans today - Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Hungry Veterans on Thanksgiving - Thursday, November 19, 2015
Feed Our Vets at Darlington Raceway - Thursday, September 3, 2015
Armour Supports Feed Our Vets – FOV Logo on Kevin Harvick’s Race Car - Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Senator Gillibrand and Chairwoman Fitzgerald tour Watertown Pantry - Wednesday, August 5, 2015
ServPro Watertown Public Service Announcement - Friday, July 24, 2015
Feed Our Vets announces two new Celebrity Honorary Board Members - Friday, June 12, 2015
Veterans face losing food stamp benefits - Friday, May 1, 2015
A Thank You to Our Veterans from Fincastle, VA - Thursday, March 12, 2015
Grand New Flag to donate 5% of profits to Feed Our Vets in 2015 - Monday, March 9, 2015
Feed Our Vets featured in Mason Magazine - Saturday, March 7, 2015
FOV Watertown Pantry Recognizes its Volunteers - Friday, February 6, 2015
Feed Our Vets Utica Pantry Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon - Monday, January 26, 2015
FOV Executive Director meets with WWII Tuskegee Airman - Friday, January 16, 2015
Veterans Legal Clinic at Syracuse University - Friday, January 9, 2015
Utica Comets Volunteer at Feed Our Vets Utica - Thursday, January 8, 2015
There’s still time to make a tax-deductible donation for 2014 - Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Every Penny Makes a Difference - Monday, December 22, 2014
Are you ready for Giving Tuesday? - Saturday, November 29, 2014
Scrap for Vets, a go-green program that turns scrap metal into food for Veteran Families - Wednesday, November 19, 2014
25% of Active Duty Military Families Seek Food Aid - Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Feed Our Vets food pantry in Utica serves hundreds in Utica - Friday, August 22, 2014
Feed Our Vets Watertown in the News - Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Oriskany NY 5K Run Food Drive - Saturday, July 19, 2014
Happy 4th of July - Friday, July 4, 2014
Feed Our Vets Featured in Recent Sullivan & Son Episode - Monday, June 30, 2014
Shop and support Feed Our Vets at AmazonSmile - Friday, June 27, 2014
Jamie Burroughs Golf Tournament Helps Feed Vets, Seeks Silent Auction Donations - Monday, June 23, 2014
Scrap for Vets Program Turns Metal and Muscle into Food for Veterans - Tuesday, June 10, 2014
SNAP Benefit Cuts Will Affect Thousands of Veterans in Every State - Thursday, May 15, 2014
Canstruction Utica raises 3 Tons of Food – a “Smashing Success” - Wednesday, May 14, 2014
4 Point Compass Ride – Sunday August 3, 2014 - Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Follow Feed Our Vets on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest - Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Feed Our Vets Named as a Beneficiary for 2014 Canstruction Utica - Thursday, April 10, 2014
Feed Our Vets Gaining Exposure and Financial Support through Partnership with Patriotic Online Marketplace - Monday, March 31, 2014
Feed Our Vets Strives to Feed More Veterans as Hunger Increases Among Enlisted Families and Homelessness Rises Among Young Soldiers - Friday, March 21, 2014
Feed Our Vets & Founder Rich Synek Featured in Moving Video by WHOGOESHUNGRY - Thursday, March 6, 2014
Thank You to these Generous Supporters -
Feed Our Vets Seeks Americans’ Help as a Post-Holiday Decline in Donations Hurts Hungry Veterans and Their Families - Monday, February 24, 2014
Feed Our Vets Strives to Feed More Veterans as Hunger Increases Among Enlisted Families and Homelessness Rises Among Younger Soldiers -
Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES Food Drive a Huge Success - Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Veterans Need Assistance More than Ever After Nov. 1 Budget Cuts, Says Feed Our Vets - Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Hometown Hero – Rich Synek - Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Bikers Hit the Road to Help Feed Our Vets Provide Meals to Veterans - Wednesday, September 11, 2013
VA triples spending on veteran homelessness problem - Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Bikers Gear Up for 2nd Annual 4 Points Compass Ride to Benefit Feed Our Vets - Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Contest at Brad Paisley Concert Nets 900 Pounds of Food to Help Feed Our Vets Provide Meals for Hungry Veterans and their Families - Monday, June 17, 2013
Ways to Honor Veterans and Military Families this Memorial Day - Monday, May 20, 2013
Stand Down Events for Homeless Veterans -
Feed Our Vets Receives Two Tons of Donated Food After Local Teams Compete in “Canstruction” Competition at Sangertown Square - Tuesday, May 14, 2013
VA Launches Hotline to Answer Questions on VA Health Care and Benefits for Women Veterans - Friday, April 26, 2013
Feed Our Vets Advocates More Support and Planning for Solutions to End Hunger and Homelessness Among Veterans - Thursday, April 18, 2013
Feed Our Vets Utilizes the Bustle of Times Square to Heighten the Public’s Awareness About Hunger and Homelessness Among America’s Veterans - Monday, March 18, 2013
Trauma Sets Female Veterans Adrift Back Home – News Article - Thursday, February 28, 2013
The State of Hunger in America Today - Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Sequestration Could Hurt Veterans -
Feed Our Vets Will Host Information Table in Times Square February 9th to Raise Awareness about Hunger and Homelessness Among American Veterans - Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Five-Year-Old Gives Up Birthday Presents for Non-Perishable Food to Help Feed Our Vets Meet the Needs of Hungry Veterans - Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Feed Our Vets Applauds Community for Meeting the Needs of Vets - Monday, January 14, 2013
The VA Cuts Down Red Tape for Veterans to Receive Benefits - Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Community Makes it Possible to Sustain Food for Veterans - Thursday, December 20, 2012
Veteran Homelessness Has Decreased, But Younger Vets Are Increasingly At Risk -
Hunger for the holidays: 20 facts about hunger in America that may surprise you -
Feed Our Vets Urges Americans to Maintain Efforts at Helping Homeless Veterans After Report Says their Numbers are Declining - Thursday, December 13, 2012
Feed Our Vets Receives Food and Financial Aid from the Oneida Indian Nation and Local Community During Two Veteran’s Day Celebrations - Thursday, November 8, 2012
VA Announces Plan to End Vet Homelessness by 2015 - Wednesday, November 7, 2012
VA Makes Progress on the War against Veteran Homelessness - Tuesday, November 6, 2012
A Family In Need - Thursday, November 1, 2012
Feed Our Vets Offers Data and Information to U.S. Government About Hunger and Homelessness Among the Nation’s Military Heroes - Monday, October 15, 2012
Forty million Americans now receive food stamps - Sunday, October 7, 2012
Feed Our Vets mobile pantry feeds more Vets in more places - Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Military burials bring final dignity to homeless veterans - Tuesday, October 2, 2012
USDA Finds Hunger Rose in 2011 as the Economy Struggled - Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Government launching new initiative to end homelessness - Friday, September 7, 2012
Veterans: What Are Your Desires, Your Dreams? - Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Rising Unemployment Means Veterans Have a Hard Time Getting By - Tuesday, August 7, 2012
Lawmakers Push To Ease U.S. Troops’ Transition To Veterans - Wednesday, August 1, 2012
VA expands grants to tackle veteran homelessness -
Helping veterans help themselves by helping others -
First Annual Feed Our Vets Motorcycle Ride - Saturday, July 21, 2012
Program ensures homeless vets get military funeral - Friday, July 20, 2012
Veterans struggle to afford housing - Thursday, July 19, 2012
Job Report Shows Market Worsening for Veterans - Wednesday, July 18, 2012
Homeless Veterans to Get Job Assistance Thanks to $20 Million in Grants - Monday, July 9, 2012
Homelessness Among Female Veterans - Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Veteran Poverty Numbers Not Good - Friday, June 1, 2012
Elderly Veterans part of a growing hunger crisis among senior citizens - Monday, February 7, 2011
The homeless: America’s ‘invisible population’ - Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Privacy Policy

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On PinterestCheck Our Feed