North country still dealing with food insecurity

Published: May. 25, 2023 at 2:36 PM EDT
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GOUVERNEUR, New York (WWNY) - During the pandemic, long lines were visible at food bank drive-thrus. With inflation and high food prices, food insecurity is something still present in the north country.

Neighbors helping neighbors fight hunger in Gouverneur.

“It is very great as we’re on Social Security, right, and so money is tight and everything is so expensive now that we just appreciate it very much. I think the whole community does. You can see how many people come,” said Barbara Mashaw, a Gouverneur resident.

With food prices high, once a month, the Gouverneur community partners up with the Food Bank of Central New York to offer food.

“We’re all out here to do one thing, to make sure these people have something - food, make sure they have something in their pantry, their refrigerators because it is tight,” said Shawn Kirby, Gouverneur volunteer.

During the Covid pandemic, we saw people waiting in long lines for free food. Officials say food insecurity continues to be a problem with 19,000 households in the tri-county region depending on help.

The food bank says almost 12 percent of homes in St. Lawrence County have food insecurity and rates in Jefferson and Lewis counties are near that.

“Food insecurity was very visible. There were long lines, cars everywhere, and highly publicized events. But the truth is, it was there, it always existed, there were always people in our community that were in need and it hasn’t gone away,” said Brian McManus, Food Bank of Central New York chief operations officer.

Nearly 400 people received food at the drive-thru at the fairgrounds on Wednesday.

Volunteer Vicky Wahl was busy flagging down the cars.

“To have some better food choices for them versus, some things that are cheaper in the stores that are not very healthy for you,” she said.

Covid may have lessened, but the battle against food insecurity wages on.