In a scene that has played out around the country during the pandemic, hundreds of people took advantage of a drive-through food giveaway in Plattsburgh on Sunday morning.
Fifteen hundred boxes of produce and another 1,500 filled with dairy products and 4,500 gallons of milk were loaded into cars, trucks and vans that slowly made their way through the SUNY Plattsburgh Field House parking lot.
People came from across the region to get the food supplies. Beverly drove 15 miles from Dannemora to wait in line. “I'm just grateful that they’re able to help us like this. Very grateful for it. It’s been a struggle. I’d like to see everything kind of go back to normal. It’s been hard especially with having teenagers at home. They’re not understanding just being cooped up in the house, not being able to be around their friends. Thank God for technology because it does help.”
A woman who didn't want to give her name drove from Redford to pick up food for seniors. “I think it's wonderful because a lot of the seniors are having a hard time. The seniors are very insecure. They’re very nervous about their future.”
“My name is Isabelle Spoor and I’m from Plattsburgh With being a senior citizen it helps out quite a bit especially when you can’t get food stamps or anything you know? So this helps out for the month.”
The drive-through pickup of dairy and produce is thanks to a USDA Farmers to Families Food Program grant awarded to Glazier's Food and Beverage Distributors. Owner Shawn Glazier says because they distribute food as a business they can fulfill the direct truck-to-trunk grant goal. “Basically I’m facilitating the program, the USDA program. So I’m coordinating with the farmers and the suppliers and I’m working with non-profits, great people like the JCEO but there’s also the United Way and some other people, and it allows me to basically purchase the product, come up with a program with a non-profit, give to a food bank or a non-profit and then let them disseminate it out how they choose. We worked with JCEO and we figured that this was the biggest way to make an impact.”
The JCEO – Joint Council for Economic Opportunity — for Clinton and Franklin Counties is a private non-profit that Glazier has worked with before and approached to help coordinate this food distribution. CEO Bruce Garcia says the $2.6 million USDA grant that Glazier received has multiple benefits. “Number one is it helps families tremendously but it also helps small farmers. And I think Shawn and Glazier’s really showed a lot of foresight in getting this grant. And we’re giving stuff to people that we know are really healthy products. You know part of that whole social determinants of health. We’re helping their diets. So we’re really proud to be involved with this and we’re really proud of what Glazier’s did in this project.”
Glazier says they chose foods that a typical family would use and need. “We got together with my team and we decided on the dairy boxes what a family could use like a 16-ounce cottage cheese, a string cheese, 8-ounce yoghurts. You know something that you would generally buy at a store. On the produce side we’ve got potatoes and onions, apples and oranges, carrots, celery and then two heads of lettuce, a romaine and an iceberg. So things that can last a few days and that every family uses.”
Drivers remained in their cars and had their trunks open as they approached so that the nearly three dozen volunteers could place the boxes of food and containers of milk and bread into cars as soon as they drove up to the pickup site. More than 400 vehicles, many getting food for multiple households, showed up during the three-hour giveaway.