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This month's Heroes for Hunger: Auburn United Methodist Church and the Summer Food Service at the Central New York Food Bank, giving lunch to all who ask.

Often, children have to be assured when they don’t see any cans, only shelves of free produce and bread, as they walk in. They become fearful and anxious. I have to show them the (physical) pantry lined with canned goods. I ask them why they are upset, and they tell me they are scared we also will run out of food, like home. My heart bleeds for a child who lives on the edge every day, thinking about food.

That is why I am heartened by the lunches available each week day at Genesee Elementary School during the summer. Children on the edge can get a nutritious meal until the school year begins. (Depending on need, a child is eligible for both breakfast and lunch during the school year, each a state or federal program.) This is why the Genesee school program is essential in the summer. It has been operating in Auburn since 2011, with Auburn United Methodist Church providing the food for adults, approximately 55 a week, and the Summer Food Service of the CNY Food Bank providing meals for approximately 125-150 children weekly. Twenty-five volunteers make this happen. Thank you, Auburn United Methodist and the CNY Food Bank.

Please note: I have seen an increase of veterans with children who need my help. They fight far-flung wars only to find one here, back home: The hunger war. Veterans Affairs can only help so far, and certainly not with an empty pantry shelf at home. Additionally, this goes for grandparents raising their children’s children coming to me in despair when alcohol and drugs interfere with their own child’s life. I can only recommend where in Auburn they can go to get moral support. There are many wonderful support groups here in Auburn as part of Cayuga County. Just ask me.

I am pleased how the summer unfolded for the pantry. I was able to get help from a summer intern, a student from Keuka College, who was learning to successfully manage a nonprofit.

The CNY Food Bank gave me a ”seed” grant for $1,800. A local farm in Waterloo delivered fresh produce all summer long. We have two more weeks to go.

The pantry helps anyone in our dedicated area with five days of food. We become a lifeline for families when food stamps run out about two and a half weeks into the month. I have told you that children become fearful, and we can bridge this gap monthly. No one leaves the pantry hungry. Besides the Auburn city grants and the partnership with the CNY Food Bank, the monthly individual donations provide a cushion to the pantry’s food allotments. Furthermore, businesses assist us in filling the pantry shelves. Children and teens come in and we assure them that no one can be fearful of us running out of food; a frightening concept still put forth by some scared children.

News from the pantry

• CNY TomatoFest is Saturday, Sept. 7, in downtown Auburn. 

• We had a “tailgate” sale at First Presbyterian Church (no charge for set up), with a raffle that brought in some needed fundraising money. It was a nice day. Thank you, First Presbyterian Church.

• Remember our fall rummage sale is 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 20; and 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 21.

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Nancy Sheffield is the executive director of the Calvary Food Pantry in Auburn.

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