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On campus food pantry combats student food insecurity

In the 1990s, it was just a drawer in the Binghamton University Financial Aid Services office where students could grab a few packets of ramen. Now, the Bear Necessities Food Pantry is an entire room stocked with canned goods, toiletries and frozen meals on the third floor of the University Union.In the fall of 2014, the pantry had just 58 users. Last spring, 222 students used the free service, thanks to the increased promotion of its resources. The Dean of Students Office, which operates the food pantry, hired a team of interns this semester just to manage it.

Ryan Goss, one of the pantry’s interns and a junior majoring in economics, said that even with the increase, many students are still unaware of the resource.

“My goal for the program is to spread more awareness,” Goss said. “I’m sure there are a lot of people that need it but don’t know about it.”

The pantry was given its own room in 2016 when Qiana Watson, the new case management coordinator at the Dean of Students Office, took over operations for the program.

According to a 2016 report by Students Against Hunger, 48 percent of college students had experience food insecurity, or lack of access to enough affordable, nutritious food, in the past month.

One way Goss and the Dean of Students Office are trying to spread awareness is through the pantry’s monthly produce giveaway in the Tillman Lobby of the University Union. Two weeks ago, they gave away large quantities of cucumbers to students.

Since the Bear Necessities Food Pantry is mainly funded through donations, it depends on students, faculty members and organizations to donate food, toiletries and money. Organizations such as the Food Recovery Network, which makes individual meals; the Food Co-op, which donates vegan food; and the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW), which sends overstocked food, all work with and donate food to the program.

Donations aren’t limited to food, though; they can range from can openers to Old Navy flip-flops to coats. The pantry aims to provide students with a variety of goods that they may otherwise not be able to afford.

“There were times where I would be on campus and I would see students without a hat, scarf or glove on and then I would say, ‘Hey, do you have these items?’ and they would say no,” Watson said. “And then I would say, come walk with me to the food pantry so that I can give you some.”

Everything in the room is available to all registered BU students.

“There is no restriction, there is no screening process,” Goss said. “All you need is your Binghamton ID.”

According to Watson, many of the students utilizing the resource are international students and students living off campus. During the 2016-17 academic year, 70 percent of students using the pantry lived off campus, 26 percent lived on campus and the rest didn’t report their residence.

Watson said while the pantry is a great resource, it’s only a temporary relief.

“I try to remind people to be courteous of others who may be coming to the pantry and to find other avenues,” Watson said.

Since students need to fill out intake forms when they use the pantry, staff can see who is using the pantry more than the average amount. Staff members then reach out to these students asking if they need other community pantries or church charities to help fulfill their needs.

Watson said operating the pantry is a particularly fulfilling part of her job since she, too, has struggled with food insecurity.

“When I was in college, I was a food insecure person,” she said. “And no one knew that.”

Watson said she wants the resource to be accessible to all students who find themselves in a position of need.

“If I have food, I would rather feed you and not let you be hungry than worry if you’re someone that has a need because you have on new sneakers,” Watson said. “Anybody could have bought you those sneakers. If you’re a person in need, you’re a person in need.”

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‘Food-A-Bago’ collecting food to help feed Broome County

TOWN OF CHENANGO (WBNG) — Food-A-Bago 2017 is currently underway. It’s an event that’s put on by the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW), that has been in the Southern Tier community for several years.

“This is CHOW’s largest independent food drive of the year we usually collect around 10 thousand pounds of food and its the perfect way to get started for the holidays and winter,” Jack Seman, the CHOW Director explained.

An RV is set up at the Weis on Upper Front Street in the town of Chenango. The goal is to fill it up with non-perishable food items to help feed the hungry.

According to Seman, more than 20 thousand people in Broome County will face hunger in a year.

“The need is great and it continues to grow every year, so this is just one of the biggest ways that people can help out is just to give people food,” Seman said.

Seeing people step up to help means a lot to Seman.

“Just to see the community come and help itself,” Seman added. “It brings so much joy, just the gratitude that the community is there for itself to help the less fortunate.’

Food items are being collected through November 6. Drop off hours are from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekend.

All items will be picked up by the CHOW truck Monday, eventually making their way to the tables in need.

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15th Annual Holiday Traditions Arts & Craft Show!!

Food-A-Bago returns to collect donations for CHOW

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – An annual campaign to collect food for the hungry is off to a fast start.

The Food-A-Bago is back at the parking lot of the Weis Market on Upper Front Street.

The week-long event, organized by Townsquare Media, collects donations of non-perishable food for CHOW.

Local radio personalities, like Louie G of the Wild 104 morning show, camp out in the camper during the day, greeting donors as they drop off items.

Louie G says if you’re in a hurry, cash donations work as well.

“If you don’t have time to stop and bring food, for every dollar that CHOW takes in, they can buy $7 worth of food. So they can buy a lot more with their resources than we can buy walking into a store,” said Louie G.

This is also the 3rd year of the shopping cart challenge, a new tradition started by the Old Union Hotel.

Businesses and organizations fill a shopping cart with food to donate, and then issue a challenge to another group to do the same.

Radio personalities from Wild 104, 98.1 the Hawk and 99.1 the Whale are in the Food-A-Bago from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m weekdays and until 8 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday.

There will be collection barrels if you come at another time.

The Food-A-Bago wraps up next Monday morning.

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Local organizations awarded proceeds from Jim ‘Mudcat’ Grant All-Star Golf Tournament

BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — The numbers are in from this year’s Jim “Mudcat” Grant All-Star Golf Tournament.

Local officials and Security Mutual Life President and CEO Bruce Boyea announced the charity tournament raised a total of $46,000.

The officials presented the proceeds to the benefiting organizations on Wednesday. The Broome County Urban League, Boys and Girls Club of Binghamton, Catholic Charities of Broome County and the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse were each given $10,000.

“To be able to give 10 thousand dollar check to those organizations that do so much within Broome County and the City is just incredible.” Bruce Boyea, Security Mutual Life President and CEO.

A portion of the funds will also go to assist homeless United States military veterans in Broome County.

Officials also announced the next Jim “Mudcat” Grant All-Star Golf Tournament will be held on August 30, 2018.

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‘Dining for Dollars’ fundraiser helping seniors

BINGHAMTON (WBNG) — Faith in Action held its ‘Dining for Dollars’ fundraiser Thursday night at the Polish Community Center in Binghamton.

Thursday night’s fundraiser included special guest servers such as Broome County Sheriff David Harder, State Senator Fred Akshar, Assembly Woman Donna Lupardo, among others.

Faith in Action has been a part of the Broome County Council of Churches since 1996. It provides non-medical services such as transportation for seniors and more.

Director of Faith in Action volunteer, Sue Spencer said, “Our program helps the seniors in our community stay independent, because as they get older they are no longer able to drive, or their families no longer live in the area, but they would like to stay in their homes. Our volunteers help them get to the doctors and the grocery store so they can stay healthy and independent,” said Spencer.

The event included raffles, a cash bar and live musical entertainment.

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Don’t Forget: October 12, 2017, FIAV Dining for Dollars

Reminder: FIAV Dining for Dollars, October 12, 2017

Annual Dining for Dollars fundraiser raises funds to support area seniors

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – A Local volunteer group is cooking up a fun and delicious way to support seniors in our area.

The Faith In Action Volunteers organization, administered by the Broome County Council of Churches will be hosting its 12th annual Dining for Dollars fundraiser next month.

People can enjoy a meal served by local celebrities and members of clergy.

Proceeds from the event will support community social connections programs, such as Chop and Chat.

This program provides fresh produce and other ingredients for seniors to prepare a meal together while socializing.

Faith In Action Volunteer Program Director Susan Spencer says the organization allows seniors to feel young at heart.

“A lot of seniors who live alone find themselves very isolated. As they get older and they no longer can drive, they can’t get out to do the things that they used to do. So, isolation is a huge factor in the increase of people having to leave their homes, because they don’t take care of themselves,” said Spencer.

Evalie Flynn has been taking part in the Chop and Chat program for a few months.

Before participating, she was told by her doctor that she was prediabetic.

She says the program has helped her change her diet and her overall health.

“I just had my bloodwork done a few weeks ago and my doctor said it was still up there a ways, but I’m no longer prediabetic,” said Flynn.

The fundraising dinner takes place October 12, at the Polish Community Center in Binghamton.

They’ll be serving up Halupki and the event will also include live music and raffles, plus songs from the clergy.

Tickets are $30 and can be purchased by calling 607-724-9130.

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