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Food program offers reduced-priced groceries for all income levels

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CANTON - A monthly food program that doesn’t have income limits is now being offered at the The Canton Neighborhood Center, 5 West St.

The program, Food Sense, allows community members to order packages of food once a month for $15.50, with the boxes containing an estimated $30 worth of food including meat and fresh produce.

The food is supplied and delivered by the Food Bank of Central New York, Syracuse.

“There are no income guidelines,” said Neighborhood Center Director Lisa M. VanKirk. “The Food Bank buys in such large volume, they are allowing everyone to be eligible.”

The number of participants has grown from 14 in October to 20 this month and Ms. VanKirk hopes that word of mouth will encourage more people to order the monthly food packages.

“It really helps people who don’t qualify for food pantries get some food at reduced prices,” she said.

This month’s order deadline is Dec. 5, with pick-up scheduled for Dec. 19 at the Unitarian Universalist Church, E. Main Street. The tentative package for December includes 12 items including chicken breasts, ground turkey, Salisbury patties, breakfast sausage, fresh eggs, pancake mix, fresh produce and canned goods.

Those interested can visit the center or call 386-3541. Orders must be paid for in advance and food stamps can be used for purchases.

The program is also offered at the neighborhood centers in Potsdam and Gouverneur and at the Ogdensburg Presbyterian Church.

The program has been offered for several years in Potsdam and is very popular, said Daisy Cox, Potsdam Neighborhood Center director. This month, 64 packages were ordered.

During the past two years, an improvement in the food has helped boost participation.

“The packages are healthier and not as processed. They’re more appealing to people,” Ms. Cox said.

Besides low-income families, the program serves middle class and elderly folks who are trying to stretch their food budget.

“I see people with good household incomes who are just trying to be frugal. They’re sort of looking to save pennies where they can,” she said.

Besides the packages, customers can order extra items that are offered as monthly specials. The December specials include spiral hams, stuffed chickens, breaded shrimp, macaroni and cheese, Italian meatballs, stuffed peppers and mozzarella sticks.

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