December 8, 2021

Virgil church sees busiest food giveaway in months

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Daniel Malley, right, loads up the car of Mary Horvath, left, with food Saturday during a food giveaway at Virgil’s United Methodist Church.

The need for food — especially for those who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic or are retired and living on a fixed income — has been great, said the Rev. Steph Brown of Virgil’s United Methodist Church.

It helped explain why she helped give out food to 25 families in 30 minutes Saturday at the church’s monthly food giveaway.

“This has been one of our busiest Saturdays we’ve had since March,” she said.

A $600-a-week unemployment benefit enhancement lapsed at the end of July, making life more complicated for families dealing with a job loss.

Unemployment in Cortland County was 10.3% in June, far beyond the 5.8% of March, state Labor Department data show, but down from a peak of 14.1% in April. The county had 17,100 jobs in June, down 1,700 from June 2019.

Brown and other volunteers helped load cars Saturday at the United Methodist Church in Virgil with fresh produce donated by local farmers, along with canned goods and meats.

Also special Saturday was freshly made zucchini bread that was donated for the drive.

“It’s vital to get them food they need,” Brown said, especially for families where a parent, or both, may have lost their jobs.

To get food, all visitors had to do was show up and tell them how many people are in their family.

That information is then saved in case people return the next month.

One person picking up food was Marjorie Tifft of Harford. Tift said she came to get food as she lives by herself and has trouble getting groceries.

“Some of the prices have gone so high you can’t afford them,” she said.

While Saturday was the first time Tifft had come to the giveaway, she said would come back if she needed to.

For Pat Kryger, of Virgil, the giveaway helps her save money for other expenses like taxes and insurance, she said.

“I like being able to put a little aside each month so when it becomes due, I can pay it,” she said.

Kryger, who has been coming to the giveaway since February, said that it has helped her save money on other groceries she would buy, which could cost up to $100 a week. This has been a strain on her as she relies on her Social Security check as her sole source of income.

By coming to the monthly food giveaway, she can cut those expenses “at least in half,” she said.

Brown shared Kryger’s idea of the use of saving money on groceries by having people come to the giveaway so they can focus their money elsewhere.

“I hope it takes the burden off their food insecurities, but also frees up some money they’ll need to pay other bills,” Brown said.