SCHENECTADY – Schenectady Shares is working to restock food pantry shelves after the holiday season, and will be collecting items throughout Schenectady County through Feb 11.
While shortages at food pantries following the holiday season are an unfortunate annual occurrence, a number of concerned individuals have come together to help alleviate hunger in Schenectady County as a new group called Schenectady Shares.
“We hope to bring in 15,000 pounds of food and personal hygiene products when we end on Feb. 11, that’s one of our goals,” Schenectady Shares chairperson Carmel Patrick said. “The other goal is that we really want to continue to raise awareness about the fact that food insecurity doesn’t stop with the holidays.”
In addition to restocking shelves at the county’s food pantries, the organization is also working to raise awareness of the need for food and personal hygeine items throughout the year.
“When a family comes together around a table and there’s food on the table, that’s joy, that’s stability in a household,” Patrick said. “And, that’s one of our goals as well.”
Schenectady Shares kicked off its inaugural event during a press conference Wednesday with examples of meals made by Marc Renson, the local shef, author and entrepreneur who co-owns Ambition Coffee & Eatery. Renson made a variety of different meals from different cultures using food which can be found in food pantries.
“At the end of the day, when we’re all together it’s at a relationship, or at a wedding or at a funeral, but when we’re all together and among the community, there’s food around us,” Renson said. “That’s the purpose of today, to just share food with each other and with the community.”
Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy thanked the group for coming together to organize and for helping to fill the need. He said this project has a “wow factor” in terms of the amount of people it is going to help.
“Those incremental changes in diet and behavior have such a big impact the overall quality of your health,” McCarthy said.
Schenectady Shares has partnered with the Daily Bread Food Pantry to distribute the donations to over 20 food pantries in the county. Boxes for donations will be put in locations throughout the county, including both Price Chopper and Market 32 locations in the county, the Schenectady Fire Department and Police Department, St. Luke’s Church, the Schenectady County Public Library, the Schenectady County Office Building, the Schenectady County Department of Social Services and more.
Schenectady Shares hopes to raise 15,000 pounds of donations and raise $15,000 in monetary donations, Patrick explained. At the press conference, Schenectady Fire Chief Don Mareno presented the organization with a donation of $6,000.
“We’re very honored to be part of this group and this effort,” Mareno said. “It’s a very important message that’s out there today, that food insecurity is an issue. But, also that Schenectady pulls together. Everyone is pulling together for this effort to make the community better.”
Honorary co-chair of Schenectady Shares, Mona Golub, explained she could not have said no to the opportunity to get involved in this project.
“We know well, unfortunately, that food insecurity lives 365 days a year right here in our own community, as much as others,” Golub said. “Here was an opportunity for us to shed light on the fact that we have 20 food pantries in Schenectady County alone, that work day in and day out to serve our community.”