CHITTENANGO — Clear Path for Veterans distributed more than 500 Thanksgiving meal kits to veterans experiencing food insecurity this Thanksgiving holiday across New York, New England, and Massachusetts.
In the seven years since its inception, Thanksgiving at Clear Path has expanded its holiday tradition to include two dozen volunteers preparing the week ahead and more than 75 people volunteering on the day of the dinner. Due to COVID-19 gathering and safety restrictions, the annual onsite dinner did not take place this year, instead delivering full Thanksgiving meal kits to the veterans in their respective service areas. “Our COVID-19 Community Task Force has addressed this need and many others since its inception in March by providing emergency food boxes throughout the 23 Counties we serve,” said executive director Alexander Behm.
Executive Director of Clear Path for Veterans headquarters in Chittenango. “While we are happy and humbled to meet the need during Thanksgiving, we must remember that Veterans, military members, and their families are experiencing food insecurity every day. Many of whom live in rural areas without any means of transportation.”
Clear Path New England distributed over 300 Thanksgiving meal kits, to include everything needed to create a family feast including turkey, cranberry, stuffing, potatoes, gravy, vegetables, pies, nuts, snacks, and more. While Thanksgiving meal kits are not a new tradition to Thanksgiving with Clear Path New England, the demand was. This year’s distribution exceeds the 225 meals provided in 2019. Clear Path New England distributed their meal kits on the 23rd of November where they were supported by 15 dedicated volunteers who together spent 135 hours planning, packaging, and distributing the meals.
“While our staff prepares for Thanksgiving we reflect on the outpouring of gratitude we heard from our families,” said Donna Bulger, Clear Path New England, Executive Director. “From the 84-year-old recent widow with tears in her eyes to the family of seven who didn’t know how they would be able to celebrate without our help. Each story inspires us and brings us closer to the families we serve.”
Both Clear Path for Veterans locations followed strict COVID-19 safety protocol to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers, and meal-kit recipients As a whole, Clear Path for Veterans would like to express gratitude to the community partners who help make initiatives like these Thanksgiving dinners possible. Including Wegmans, Weichert Realtors, and Preferred Mutual, to name a few of the many Clear Path headquarters sponsors, as well as partners at the Massachusetts Military Support Foundation who provided 200 turkeys and pre-packed meals; Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry provided 40 frozen turkeys, and Methuen Cares Center who serves as Clear Path New England’s outreach arm in Northern, MA.