December 6, 2013
Senator draws attention to hunger
Kirsten Gillibrand urges food donations at Cortland soup kitchen
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand chats with Cortland residents Rich Schreffler and Lucille Sopp at Loaves and Fishes Thursday afternoon. Gillibrand arrived in time to help serve dessert to the lunchtime crowd.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand stopped by the Loaves and Fishes soup kitchen in Grace Episcopal Church on Court Street Thursday to help serve local residents.
Though late for the main meal, she arrived in time to help serve dessert.
After donning an apron and passing around pieces of cake, Gillibrand took time to talk to the kitchen’s beneficiaries, asking how often they frequented it and about their experiences with trying to stay fed.
“She asked how the program was, how the food was,” said Richard Schreffler, who both eats and volunteers at Loaves and Fishes.
“She asked me how many days a week I come,” said Lucille Sopp, adding that at times she struggles to afford food. “Everything is expensive.”
Gillibrand said that the purpose of her visit was to draw awareness to the plight of many of the state’s poor.
“Families are suffering across New York today,” said Gillibrand after making her rounds. “There’s many families ... whose children go to bed hungry at night. A lot of seniors are seeing food insecurity.”
Kim Hill, the director of Loaves and Fishes, said the senator’s visit, apart from being a first, was a step in the right direction for the visibility of the problem of hunger.
“It would be nice if more people were aware and talked to the people here,” Hill said. “This is a great thing for the church, the program and for Cortland.”
“Coming to a place like this makes a difference,” echoed Gillibrand. “When people realize how much need there is in our state, maybe we can fight harder for food stamps.”
One woman Gillibrand spoke to said that she used to get by on a diet composed primarily of sandwiches.
“No fruits, no vegetables,” Gillibrand said. “When she realized she could get a ... more balanced meal here, it helped her health.”
Gillibrand spoke of the necessity of institutions such as Loaves and Fishes, which serves 60 meals per day six days per week, and extolled others to donate.
“Places like this really matter and during the holidays hopefully all of us can be generous and give to our local food banks,” Gillibrand said. “Unfortunately, the need is much greater and the resources are much fewer.”
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