Feed Our Vets primary mission is to feed hungry Veterans and their family members, but many people don’t know that we also feed active duty military families. In this recent article by NBC news, they highlight the hidden national issue of food insecurity among active duty military families.
From NBC News:
Petty Officer 1st Class Adam Yetter, a Navy sailor for 17 years, works a second job as a security guard and donates blood plasma twice a week to help make ends meet for his family. Deployed seven times during his military career, including an extended 19-month tour to Iraq, Yetter squeezes in family time with his three young boys and his wife in-between jobs.
To save money, the Yetters recently moved off base into a two-bedroom apartment they share with another sailor and his two sons, who stay there part time. Despite their penny-pinching efforts, the Yetters have been living paycheck-to-paycheck for many years as they work to get rid of debt accumulated over everyday expenses like car repairs and gas and the costs of caring for an autistic son. They often visit food pantries to keep their kitchen stocked.
“We’re doing everything we can possibly think to be doing and we’re barely making it,” said Adam’s wife, Lindsey, 36. (Adam declined comment). She accesses many local pantries, uses money-saving strategies and has met with a financial adviser to get the family budget into the black, but they’re stuck, she said.
“You’re robbing Peter to pay Paul most of the time,” said Yetter, a teaching assistant at a preschool.
Yetter’s family is among the 620,000 households that include at least one soldier, reservist or guardsman – or 25 percent of the nation’s total active duty and reserve personnel – that are seeking aid from food pantries and other charitable programs across the country, according to a rare inquiry about the food insecurity of troops and veterans conducted by Feeding America, a hunger relief charity, (study released August 18th). Another 2.37 million households including veterans receive assistance from food pantries that are part of Feeding America’s network (this figure doesn’t include households where both a former and current service member reside).
Feed Our Vets is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to help Veterans in the United States, their spouses and children, whose circumstances have left them on the battlefield of hunger, and to involve the public in fighting Veteran hunger, through: (1) Community food pantries that provide regular, free food to Veterans and their families, (2) Distribution of related goods and services, (3) Public education and outreach.
Veteran Timothy Peck never thought he’d have trouble feeding himself.
But after he was laid off from a 27-year telecommunications job in 2008, he spent a period of time without a home.
“I was once a single man making $50,000 a year,” Peck said. “Now, I’m using food banks.”
It’s a story many military veterans share, and that’s where Feed Our Vets comes in.
Every Wednesday from 4 to 6:30 p.m., veterans can stop by Feed Our Vets pantry at 205 Genesee St. to grab a week’s worth of food. The items — from fresh vegetables and bread, to canned soup, to Frosted Flakes — have posted limits, but they’re flexible.
“We try to set the pantry up so that they have a choice, like it’s going shopping,” veteran and Board of Directors member Stephen Amaral said. “We want them to have a little bit of dignity.”
In 2013, the pantry assisted 1,157 veterans. So far this year, that number is about 800.
Jared Gawlas, who served in the military from 1999 to 2007, started making trips to Feed Our Vets last winter. Although he’s employed at Fraternal Composite Service and does freelance photography, he couldn’t make ends meet on his own.
“They always try to say, ‘take more,’” he said. “I just want to cover the basics.”
Peck, who’s been using Feed Our Vets about once a month since 2009, said the food supplements what he’s able to buy with SNAP benefits and temporary work through Kelly Services. Almost 70,000 veterans were estimated to have received SNAP benefits in New York at some point between 2009 and 2011.
The organization, which became a nonprofit in 2009, doesn’t ask veterans about their incomes or personal lives, though.
“Feed Our Vets looks at the need of veteran hunger, not the cause,” said Richard Synek, Feed Our Vets founder and executive director. “Most of these people are just working poor.”
The nonprofit doesn’t receive any substantial grants. Instead, it uses a combination of fundraising programs — such as selling water bottles, or collecting and recycling old cars, scraps and electronics — and donations. A co-op in Turin donates fresh vegetables. A local bakery gives loaves of bread. Churches, government buildings and more run food drives for the pantry.
“We work with other people like us,” Amaral said.
Synek said the camaraderie at Feed Our Vets — where other organizers are veterans, too — makes veterans choose it over other food banks.
Read more: http://www.uticaod.com/article/20140821/News/140829877#ixzz3B9ow0ojD
From WWNYTV – 7 New Fox 28
On the third Saturday of every month, veterans like Robert Murphy are grateful.
“I have a lot of children,” Murphy said. “I have nine children, so the food really helps.”
For the past five years, the Utica-based Feed Our Vets food pantry has been coming to the Watertown Veterans Center on Court Street to provide veterans with a week’s worth of groceries.
Dave Robinson says it helps him get by.
“It’s better than just sitting home and doing nothing,” he said, “sitting home and trying to figure out how you’re going to get this, how to get that. I’ve been coming here ever since they brought the first truck in here.”
Mark Smith, vice president of Feed Our Vets, said he’s “very honored to know that I’m helping out these men and women that have already served our country.”
While food pantry volunteers were filling bags of groceries, Jefferson Community College Veterans Club members were on the grill making sure each vet had lunch to eat on the spot. They also come every third Saturday.
“So what food they get from this pantry, they don’t have to go home and make food from food they just got,” said Cory O’Connor, president of the JCC club. said.
Volunteers say giving back just feels good and they want vets to know that if they need assistance, there are people out here to help them.
“We are out here to take care of our veterans,” Smith said, “our men and women that have served our country.”
That makes the volunteers, many whom are vets themselves, feel great.
On Aug 2 the Florence Mae 5k run in Oriskany will be supporting Feed Our Vets by collecting food for admission to the run. Please bring canned goods to support Feed Our Vets.
To register for the race visit the Oriskany Museum website.
The race will start at 9:00am at Trinkaus Park, 420 Utica Street, Oriskany NY
Medals for winners in the following age groups, male and female:
9 and under
70 and up
Pins to all 60+ runners
For more information, contact Karl Humphrey at 315-269-9341 or Khumphrey63@gmail.com