Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency is proud to support and promote the work of emergency food providers in Cayuga and Seneca counties. Our anti-hunger collaboration efforts are reflected in the many events and activities held throughout the two counties.

Seneca County House of Concern organized its second annual Paddle Poverty Canal Crawl in August. Funds raised support House of Concern’s mission to help those in need with basic needs, such as food, clothes and household items. Save the date for next year’s Poverty Paddle on Aug. 18!

TomatoFest was held Sept. 8-10 in downtown Auburn, and proceeds were dispersed among Cayuga County emergency food providers that participated in the festival. Thank you to all who attended and supported this event.

Seneca Towns Engaging People for Solutions worked with community members, South Seneca Schools teachers and student volunteers to create a community garden. Many families and community groups received fresh produce grown through this successful project.

The Cayuga County Emergency Food Provider Network organized its second annual Hunger Walk Oct. 14 at the Ward W. O’Hara Agricultural & Country Living Museum. Over $4,000 was raised and dispersed through the Food Bank of Central New York to nine participating emergency food providers. The network would like to thank everyone that supported and participated in the Hunger Walk, including community partners, state Assemblyman Gary Finch, Fidelis Care, Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cayuga County WIC. We hope you’ll walk with us next year for this important cause!

The Food Bank of Central New York has been distributing fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy products and bread monthly via its Mobile Food Pantry to rural areas of Cayuga County that are identified as food-insecure, including Victory, Cato and Moravia. Visit our Facebook page for updates on future Food Bank of Central New York Mobile Food Pantry events at facebook.com/cayugaseneca.

CSCAA was fortunate to partner with Willard Drug Treatment Center’s garden project this past year. Willard donated over 11,000 pounds of produce grown and harvested by parolees under the direction of dedicated Officers Wolf and Austin. CSCAA coordinated distribution of produce to Tyre Reformed Church Pantry, Seneca County House of Concern in Seneca Falls, Moravia Hope Pantry, King Ferry Pantry, Western Cayuga County Union Springs Pantry, SS. Peter and John Soup Kitchen, Salvation Army pantry and soup kitchen, and CSCAA’s pantries in Auburn and Waterloo. Interlaken Reformed Church Pantry and Ovid Federated Church Pantry also benefited from this project.

Willard’s nutritious, locally grown food has provided hundreds of individuals across Cayuga and Seneca counties with fresh produce that would otherwise be too expensive for emergency food providers to provide to their customers. We greatly appreciate the work and dedication that goes into organizing, growing and harvesting this produce. We are seeking seed donations of squash, tomato, seed potato, peppers, onions, broccoli, beans, carrots, beets, cucumbers, etc. to support these efforts. We would also like to start growing fruit trees and blueberry bushes at the Willard campus in order to provide emergency food providers with fresh fruit in addition to vegetables, and we are seeking donations of these items.

CSCAA was recently awarded a five-year Hunger Prevention Nutrition Assistance Program grant to implement a food recovery program in Cayuga and Seneca counties. This new initiative will provide emergency food providers, including soup kitchens, pantries and shelters, with recovered food from farmers, grocers, restaurants and other vendors, such as the Venison Coalition Project. CSCAA’s role is to identify partners that have excess food that would otherwise go to waste, and to safely recover and disperse that food to partner Emergency Food Providers for redistribution to customers in need.

Food pantry coordinators are frequently asked what items are needed most. If you would like to contribute to your local pantry or soup kitchen, donations of canned vegetables, fruits, soups, stews, canned chicken and tuna, peanut butter, oatmeal and juice are always welcome. With the holidays approaching, you might consider donating a holiday meal, including turkey, stuffing, squash, potatoes, gravy, green beans and pies. Now through Nov. 20, BJ's in Auburn is hosting a holiday food drive on behalf of CSCAA to help individuals and families in need prepare for Thanksgiving.

Many food pantries throughout Cayuga and Seneca counties offer both food and personal care items. Shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, body soap, laundry soap, dish soap, toilet paper and tissues are the most requested personal care items. Look for personal care item donation boxes at Kinney Drugs; this new partnership was spearheaded by the United Way of Cayuga County as part of its 2017 Annual Campaign.

Christina Ehlers is the director of food security at the Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency. She graduated from University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science in sports medicine/nutrition. For more information, visit cscaa.com or call (315) 255-1705 ext. 109.

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