A pair of grants will help get more food to people in need in Otsego County.

The Hunger Coalition of Otsego County NY announced that it gave a $10,000 grant to the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship (CADE) on June 8, and that it received a $27,000 grant from the Clark Foundation on June 11.

“The project itself was organized by CADE,” Cindy Blanchard, HCOC board president said. “It helps food pantries and local farmers. Farmers sell their excess produce to CADE, who then coordinates with local food pantries to get the food on the shelves. This helps eliminate food waste.”

Blanchard said that in addition to providing fresh fruits and vegetables, farmers provide milk, cheese and butter to the food banks. She said each food pantry that partners with CADE gets a budget and can use that money throughout the year or in one shot for the fresh food.

“It's really dependent on what the demand that week is,” she said.

Blanchard said food pantries have a hard time getting fresh produce, so the partnership is a "win-win" for area residents and farmers. She said last year 17 farms and food businesses participated in the program. She said seven pantries have signed up for the service this year, so far. She said the local food banks are served by the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY, which supplies them with canned and boxed food, but not a lot of fresh food.

“Even canned corn is hard to come by,” Blanchard said.

The money for the CADE grant came from donations to the HCOC.

The Clark Foundation grant will help 16 food pantries in Otsego County Blanchard said. She said that money can be spent on different foods, shelving or paper bags. According to the press release, the pantries receiving funds are: Burlington Flats Food Pantry, Butternut Valley Food Pantry in Gilbertsville, Community Cupboard of Edmeston, Daily Bread Food Pantry in Cherry Valley, Hartwick Food Pantry, Helping Hands Food Pantry in Oneonta, Southtown Food Pantry in South New Berlin, United Methodist Church Food Pantry in Mt. Upton, Richfield Springs Food Pantry, Schuyler Lake Food Cupboard, FDT Food Pantry in Maryland, St. Mary’s Food Pantry in Oneonta, St. Matthew Lutheran Food Pantry in Laurens, Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry at St. James Church in Oneonta, The Salvation Army Food Pantry in Oneonta, and Unadilla Community Food Pantry.

Blanchard said 90% of local food pantries are run by volunteers and they didn't have the knowledge needed to apply for the grants so the HCOC applied for the grants for them. Blanchard said there are 22 food pantries in the county and some didn't apply for the grants because they couldn't assure that someone would be available when food was delivered.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.

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