Cornell Cooperative Extension Sullivan County Program Managers Martin Colavito and Thomas Bosket have been working hard to ensure folks stay fed despite the kinks in the food supply chain and food access through Sullivan Fresh Community Cupboard.
In partnership with Sullivan Allies Leading Together (SALT), area school districts, the County’s Emergency Community Assistance Center, and others, Colavito and Bosket have been sweeping the county in the CCE Sullivan County Fresh Market-on-the-Move van, delivering much-needed food, hygiene products and hope to thousands of people every week.
In doing so, they’ve met and heard the stories of how Sullivan County residents are coping with social distancing and the realities of COVID-19. “One fellow we met was sleeping on the floor of his friend’s house… because he wants to make sure his friend, who is a 73-year-old veteran, is cared for,” said Colavito. “While delivering produce to these folks, we were asked how much money we need for gas. It reminds me that the little things we do for each-other often become the big part of a collective solution that results in compassion.”
The program is supported by donations, which have come from individuals, businesses, and organizations. With funding from the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan Counties, Lions Clubs, Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, the Skoda family, Brey’s Eggs, and more, SALT is delivering 5,000 meals each week through the Sullivan Fresh Market-on-the-Move. Stops include two duck farms, Action Toward Independence, food pantries, and forgotten neighborhoods in every corner of the county.
“The farm is forever grateful for the prompt outreach and delivery of food for our employees, most of which have families to feed during these difficult times. We are doing our best as a farm family to keep people safe, housed, and fed,” said Jenny Chamberlain, chef, and general manager of furthering processing at Hudson Valley Foie Gras. “We are all in this together as we continue to work through this.”
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Sullivan Fresh Community Cupboard is reaching folks who were in need well before the pandemic; invisible populations in public housing, halfway houses, motels and hotels, migrant workers, disAbled veterans in hyper rural housing communities, and others—with no transportation, limited access to services, and living in food deserts. The regular outreach and contact has given these communities a lifeline, a connection to each other, a link to the larger community, and HOPE.