Winter is a hard time for a lot of people in a year when we're not also living through a pandemic and so you can imagine the struggles that the winter of 2020 will bring to many of our neighbors.

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With no end in sight as far as coronavirus is concerned, more and more restriction in place, and an overwhelming number of people trying to come back from being furloughed for months or searching for employment after being let go, the holidays aren't going to look like they usually do for so many in our community.

Les Aylesworth, Director of CHOW recently told Townsquare Media that Feeding America projects that because of the economic effects of COVID, the number of food-insecure residents of Broome County will rise from approximately 25,000 to 35,000 before the end of the year. Aylesworth also said, "I have no way to know, but I think ...with parents either being furloughed or having to furlough to be home with kids and income being reduced, to the cost of food going up and a few other factors; this may be a dark winter for folks."

CHOW understands the need for food, for hope, and for a taste of normalcy in an otherwise unnormal year and so they've teamed up with Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and Cornell Cooperative Extension to provide holiday meal boxes for at least 50 families in Broome County.

The holiday meal boxes will feed a family of four to six and will be packed with traditional holiday foods as well as locally grown and/or produced foods. While the selected families will receive the holiday meal box for free, the boxes themselves come with a cost to put together and that cost is $50 per box.

If you have your footing and haven't been hit as hard financially as some of our neighbors have been, maybe you'll consider sponsoring a holiday meal box? CHOW hopes to have enough funds raised by December 6 to put the boxes together and wouldn't be incredible if they were to receive more than the needed $2,500 to put the 50 holiday meal boxes together? Wouldn't it be incredible if they were able to raise enough to double or even triple the number boxed to bless struggling families?

If you, your business, or your group would like to donate toward CHOW’s Holiday Meal Box initiative, please reach out to Mike Leahey, Director of Development for CHOW by calling 607-724-9130.

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