The Arts Joining Forces to Fight Hunger

In tough times, hunger goes on the rise.  Five years after the onset of the financial crisis, hunger remains high in the US and most importantly in Central New York. The EOH and Treasures of the Heart of NY are joining forces to get the word out about hunger in our community.  We will be hosting two concerts this summer, with the first concert on Saturday, May 4th.  It will be the opening concert of the EOH Summer Season!  This joint benefit will raise awareness while celebrating our arts and music.  Good Nature Brewing will be on hand for this celebration of local talent!  The good times will start at 7:30 pm with music from Tumbleweed Highway, Rabbit in the Rye, Pamme Swan and Caitlin Grossjung – all from central New York.  Our goal is to expand support for Madison, Hamilton and Earlville food cupboards.  Our second showcase will be later this summer.

Hunger in the United States – it’s still serious.  The financial and economic crisis that erupted in 2008 caused a dramatic increase in hunger.  In 2010 (the last year statistics are available) – approximately one in seven households across the country or 17.2 million– were food insecure, the highest number ever recorded in the United States.

That number matches what we are seeing in Chenango County, one in seven households.  In 2011, 2.7 million New Yorkers (14.5% of the population) lived in poverty.  The poverty rates in Madison and Chenango Counties are 10% and 14%, respectively.

In Madison County, the Community Action Partnership (CAP) coordinates most of the food pantries, with staff who provide education, information, and help in obtaining food stamps (now called Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP), as well as providing other information to direct people to possible employment.  The 12 food panty sites in Madison County served 8,025 families and 29,125 individuals in 2005.  In 2012, those numbers jumped to 13,387 families and 44,078 individuals – an increase of 60% in seven years!

Diane Ryan, CAP’s Deputy Director, says, “Sometimes food pantries are the only resource available to combat hunger – many families are struggling to pay their rent, utilities, and the cost of keeping a car on the road.  The food pantry is often the difference between going to bed hungry and having something to eat.”

Suzanne Collins of the Hamilton Food cupboard is an advocate for the hungry in the Hamilton and Madison School Districts. “Providing food to an ever-growing community can be a challenge at times but with the generous support from individuals and organizations we are able to help our neighbors in need.”

They don’t just hand out food.  “We have a strong belief in healthy eating and empowering our patrons with the ability to provide for themselves. By giving our patrons seeds, starter plants, and bucket gardens in the growing season, as well as maintaining a regular supply of produce in the winter, we give them the ability to provide healthy choices for their families.”

The May 4th event marks the new release of Treasures of the Heart of NY’s third volume of original and traditional music in support of CNY Food Cupboards.  The musicians on the annual collection of tunes each donate their work to this worthy cause.  In fact, there are so many musicians donating to this amazing cause that they could not all fit on the compilation CD! There are more tunes available to download.  The CD sales support local food cupboards, so please purchase your CD compilation at the EOH or at www.treasuresintheheartofny.org.

Please join us on May 4 as we engage our community to end hunger in CNY – and at the same time celebrate music and the arts with fabulous live music.  Tickets are $8 adults and $5 students/youth are on sale now at 315-691-3550 or www.earlvilleoperahouse.com.   See more info on hunger on the EOH website linked to the Treasures Showcase event.

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