COVID-19’s Lasting Effect on CNY Food Banks COVID-19's Lasting Effect on Food Banks

REPORTER: As COVID continues to disrupt the lives of college students, head of The University United Methodist Church food pantry, Gayln (gay-Lynn) Murphy-Stanley says they went from serving families to students.

GAYLN MURPHY-STANLEY: “So your food banks closed, your dining halls closed, many left, but many international students stayed”

REPORTER: Syracuse University student Matthew Clemens found himself without money, food, and hungry, pushing him to go to his local food bank

MATTHEW CLEMENS: “I got a tip from my friends that there was this food bank. I took a baguette home with me and I was ready to take on finals week.”

REPORTER: With Syracuse University food banks opening back up in the fall, the church is still struggling with staff issues and looking for volunteers. Reporting for N-C-C News, Raven Brink.

SYRACUSE N.Y. (NCC News) — Local food banks have been a staple in the city of Syracuse for decades now, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, these food banks saw new faces. As businesses and schools alike shut down to aid in the social distancing practice set in place, this led many to fall on hard times. As this happened they looked to the community for guidance and a helping hand, and The University United Methodist Church (UUMC) was there. The food pantry led by Galyn Murphy-Stanley became identified by the Food Bank of Central New York as an emergency food site for the entire city of Syracuse. Making the demand much higher than what the UUMC was used to meeting.

Galyn Murphy-Stanley described the scene in mid-March 2020, when the city of Syracuse was hit by the COVID-19 epidemic, “[Syracuse University’s] campus closed, [Syracuse University’s] food centers closed, [Syracuse University’s] dining halls closed”. 

The two food banks on Syracuse University’s campus handle the food insecurity crisis college students are faced with, but as the pandemic forced these to close, students had to find another means to get food. This closure led to the increase Murphy-Stanley saw in residents at her food bank. 

Local Syracuse University Student Matthew Clemens said he was out of money, out of food, and hungry. When a friend told Clemens about the UUMC food pantry, he was able to get food to get the energy he needed to get through the final weeks of school. 

The UUMC food pantry, although going from a staff of 25 to six, had to keep working to feed the city. 

Galyn Murphy-Stanley commented on her short staffing by saying they had to keep working even under all the pressure, but looking back she can confidently say, “we fed the city, and we are still doing it!”

The UUMC food pantry is open every Friday from 10 am-noon, as well as Sunday mornings. While their staff is getting back to normal numbers, they would appreciate any help to get things running smoothly, as the effects of COVID continue to linger.

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