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Nancy Myers, Judy Scott, Toni AdamsFrom Left, Outgoing Lansing Food Pantry Director Nancy Myers, Second-in-command Judy Scott, Incoming Director Toni Adams

The saying goes, 'There's no such thing as a free lunch'.  That's not strictly true, especially if you are a veteran, because the Lansing Food Pantry is distributing free Veteran's Day meals to veterans this year November 12th from 11 to noon.  The giveaway will take place right after the regular November Mobile Food Pantry hour in Lansing.  There is no eligibility requirement except that you have to be a veteran.

"After the Mobile Food Pantry, from 11 to 12 veterans can come in and we're providing them with a roasting chicken, potatoes, stuffing and vegetables to take home with them," says Lansing Food Pantry Director Nancy Myers.  "It's just for veterans."

When Myers retires as Director at the end of December, Toni Adams will take on her position.  Adams has been working with Myers for the past several months, learning the ropes, but also thinking about ways the food pantry could serve the community differently.  Adams says that eventually there will be changes, and continuing and growing the Veterans Day event will be one of them.

"This is going to be one change that I think we can build each year, depending on what we learn with this one," Adams says.  "What happens this year is going to be a clear indicator of how it's handled next year."

The Lansing Food Pantry is one of several in the Southern Tier that is doing something special for Veteran's Day.  Food Bank of the Southern Tier Communications Coordinator Maria Strinni says that more than 25% of veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars face food insecurity, and of all the households served by the Feeding America network of food banks, 1 in 5 has at least one member who has served in the U.S. military.  She says the Food Bank has compiled a list of partner agencies that have taken the initiative to offer Veterans Day meals and food distribution.  As far as Food bank officials know five agencies in Tioga County, three in Tompkins County, a couple in Chemung County and one in Steuben County are doing something for veterans between Veteran's Day Friday through Monday.

"In Tompkins County there is Trumansburg, the Caroline Food Pantry, and Lansing Food Pantry," Strinni says. "Trumansburg United Methodist Church is hosting a Veterans Day breakfast on Sunday.  The Caroline Food Pantry is having a special food distribution for veterans -- a special food pantry day just for veterans.  Lansing Food Pantry has take its own initiative to create a full meal for veterans to take home and prepare."

Myers says that some Lansing veterans are regular food pantry clients, but they balk at special recognition.  She says the Veteran's Day event will be a chance to do something special for them.

"We're really looking forward to this, because we try, as a pantry -- and we're allowed to -- anyone standing out there in line, for instance who is standing in line and may have a Vietnam Vet hat or a World War II hat, to get them to come in line first," Myers says. "But it's not happening.  They don't want the recognition.  They're fine standing in line like everybody else."

The pantry will have thirty chicken meals available to give away, but is also prepared with gift cards to Lansing Market in case they run out of meals, or if veterans would prefer something different.  Although the regular food pantry day is on the fourth Monday of each month, it will be on November 19th next month because the fourth Monday is Thanksgiving.  Regular clients who live in Lansing will receive a turkey dinner including a turkey, stuffing, and a five pound bag of potatoes, or a gift card for those who don't want a turkey.

One out of seven individuals and one out of five children in Tompkins County are at risk of hunger, according to statistic taken from 2017.  That comes to 14,530 people in Tompkins County alone.  The Food Bank of the Southern Tier estimates that 2,6 million meals are needed to feed everyone for a year.  1,578,924 pounds of food were distributed in Tompkins County, and the BackPack Program distributed 10,437 packs to children in six school districts.

The Lansing Food pantry serves about 100 families -- over 300 people -- per month.  It is open on the fourth Monday of each month from 1pm to 3pm, for Lansing town and school district residents only.  Area residents in and outside of Lansing may also avail themselves of the Mobile Food Pantry from 10 to 11am on the second Monday of each month.  Each December the Lansing schools provide a 'food train' that stocks the Lansing pantry with canned goods.  Food is collected at the schools and sent to the Food pantry in a truck, and students come to help on Food Pantry day.

"We don't order food for the month of December," Myers says. "We order milk and eggs and that sort of thing, but we don't order any canned goods in December.  There's that much food.  It's just unbelievable."

"The mobile pantry has no residency requirement," says Lansing food Pantry second-in-command Judy Scott.  "And we get people from all over the place.  And it has no income eligibility either.  But to receive food from the (Lansing Food Pantry) you have to live in the Town of Lansing."

Scott said she hopes that the veterans' food giveaway will draw more people to come to the Mobile Food Pantry this year.  Being the first year, food pantry organizers have no idea of how successful it will be, but they are optimistic.

"It was advertised even at the VFW in Moravia," Myers says.  "I understood that three or four veterans told the bartender that they are coming.  So it might be good."

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