Call for help!
The holiday season is rapidly approaching. For many of us it is a joyous time that is spent with family and friends. For many of us it’s a time to celebrate the past year as we prepare to enter another. For many it’s a time to enjoy good fortune and reflect on our lives. However, not everyone in Ulster County will celebrate this holiday season. Nearly 3 million New Yorkers live in poverty with over 1 million of them using food pantries daily. The poverty rate in Ulster County is reported to be 12.8 percent or 23,349 individuals. In the City of Kingston some 4,360 live at or below the poverty level.
What is the official poverty level as defined by the federal government? According to the Department of Health and Human Services a family of four qualifies as living in poverty if the total income for the household is $23,550 per year or less. Even with the proposed new federal minimum wage increase to $10 per hour, a fulltime worker of 40 hours a week with a family of four is living below the poverty line. Our families need the support of our community.
To meet the growing needs of the less fortunate, there are over thirty food pantries scattered throughout the county. They operate days, nights and weekends. Most are staffed with community volunteers. Some of them you may know: Queen’s Galley, People’s Place and Caring Hands, just to name a few. Ulster County Community Action operates food pantries in Kingston, Highland and Ellenville and recently started a Mobile Food Pantry to deliver food to those without access to transportation. These pantries not only rely on the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley to provide food but members of the community as well. The need is real and growing every day.
So as you celebrate the holidays with your family and friends, I ask that you think about the others in UlsterCounty who will not be celebrating this year. I ask you to support a local food pantry in your city, town or neighborhood. As the executive director of Ulster County Community Action I would love for you to support my agency but more importantly I want you to support the needy of Ulster County. So pick a food pantry and donate. Donate time, food or money. Your local food pantry will be grateful as will the families they assist. A list of food pantries and soup kitchens can found at www.ulstercorps.org.
Your generosity will make a difference to a family in need. Open your hearts and feel the joy of giving. Enjoy your holiday season.
Robert M. Lamoree, executive director
Ulster County Community Action Committee