"Feed Our Vets" in New York Mills is continuing to serve local veterans in need throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
What You Need To Know
- The food pantry in New York Mills has continuously served veterans in need during COVID-19
- Monetary and food donations have been down 67 percent
- Despite the hardships, the organization remains committed to helping vets in the Mohawk Valley and beyond
The pantry has been open throughout COVID-19 with precautions in place.
Typically, the organization counts on donations from schools and businesses, but because of the pandemic, "we did take a 67 percent hit with the donations, monetary and food donations,” said Richard Synek, founder and executive director of Feed Our Vets.
But the organization is no stranger to difficult times. In fact, Feed Our Vets started because of them.
"It actually started with one stamp and a World War II vet,” said Synek.
Synek, a Navy veteran, met that veteran while working as a postmaster. After getting to know him better, he realized the need within the community.
"During the winter, it was either heat or eat, so imagine having that choice,” he said.
That interaction over a decade ago is what continues to drive Synek to help his fellow veterans, especially during these times, where the organization has seen an uptick in need.
"With new vets and everything, probably a good 30 percent increase,” he estimates.
With that need, the pantry has taken plenty of precautions to stay open and keep veterans safe. For months, they distributed food outdoors, but now people are allowed back inside, following proper guidelines.
After getting their food, veterans bring their carts downstairs where volunteers, many of whom are also vets, help them unload.
"There's a self-satisfaction in helping our brothers and sisters, so we do it, because that's the way it is, no man or girl left behind as far as we're concerned,” said Carl Davis, a volunteer and Army veteran.
The organization’s impact reaches beyond the Mohawk Valley as well. They have two additional food pantries (in Watertown and Ohio) and are also sending Walmart gift cards to veterans and active duty service members in 39 states.
You can learn more about the organization, as well as how to donate, here.