UTICA, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY-TV) — Volunteers from the Utica National Insurance Group came together with the Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties to hand out meals at the Rescue Mission. This community service, along with a $250,000 donation are part of Utica National’s Food Security Project that started last year during the pandemic. 

“So what inspired it was the worry that with all that was going on with COVID, all the things that were problems around the country, our state, and our county and our city that folks in need for basic things like food would be forgotten, would be cast aside because of folks being consumed with the pandemic and other issues really; and we wanted to make sure that those in need, at the need level, were not being forgotten and that really inspired our desire to help.” – Bernard Turi, Executive Vice President, Utica National

The pandemic only worsened the food insecurity in Utica that has been a longtime concern and focus for groups like the community foundation.

“Food insecurity is not uncommon to large residential neighborhoods like Cornhill. Access to good healthy options is usually minimum, because of lack of transportation, bus access, so they can’t get to the supermarkets as easily as others in other communities; and there aren’t any healthy options as far as restaurants, or very few, and affordable, so you know the demand for healthy food and getting food on the table to feed our residents has become an issue and a critical issue during the pandemic when we saw the need skyrocket.” – Alicia Dicks, President & CEO, The Community Foundation

Utica National and the Community Foundation can’t address food insecurity on their own, and there are many ways for you to get involved yourself.

“We really want to see our providers, our local farmers, producers and restaurateurs be more active in feeding our community and anytime you see an organization that is providing food for a pantry or for a non-profit that is helping feed our families or investing in a neighborhood to bring them a market or a food product even a food truck is something always worthwhile investing in, and also bringing food to food pantries, supporting new rescue missions and organizations like that that are constantly stocking their food pantries and kitchens to meet the demand.” – Alicia Dicks, President & CEO, The Community Foundation