Valley Needs the Galley

A group of Poughkeepsie Day School students are participating in a massive fund drive for Queens Galley, a 501( c)3 not for profit organization that provides awareness, education, relief and prevention of food insecurity in America. The students want to help to ensure that the Galley has the funds it needs to continue to do the valuable work that it does. They have formed a task force, which the aptly named :Valley Needs the Galley. On their facebook page, the members of the task force wrote:

"The Hudson Valley has been blessed by the Queens Galley in Kingston NY. The Queens Galley has found itself in need of the community's help. As a caring and committed organization who has helped and fed our community for over 10 years they deserve the support and loyalty from the community. They've helped us when we've needed it, it's time to help them because they need it."

About Queens Galley:
The Queens Galley supports, creates and implements programs dedicated to the affordable nutritional education of children, families and seniors. The Queens Galley exists to assist people living at or below the poverty line to access safe permanent housing and access to wholesome food.

If the Galley raises enough money for a downpayment, their mortage will be HALF what they now pay in rent and after they own the building they would qualify for energy reduction programs that would drastically reduce energy costs. After purchase the shelter is
eligible for NYS dormitory authority funding assistance that would almost double the DSS rate. In essence after purchase and renovation the income from the shelter means the bare basics of operating are fully funded to do what they have to do...and the additional fundraising would help them to do what they WANT to do and to do it better.

Soup Kitchen
The Queens Galley soup kitchen is open every day of the year, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to anyone seeking a meal. Each meal is prepared from scratch with the assistance of volunteer chefs, culinary students and professionals as well as dedicated community members. The Queens Galley soup kitchen enjoys a wonderful rapport with our local farms. We are especially grateful to Migliorelli farms, Phillies Bridge farm project, Hearty Roots, RSK farms, Bread Alone and Saulpaugh farm for their generosity during the growing season.

Meals served:
July 2007 5,974
August 2007 6,110
September 2007 7,152
August 2008 8660
August 2011 10,367
Our total meals served as of 07/15/2012 is 452,752

The Queens Galley soup kitchen is funded by donation and support of the community residents and businesses. We are not government funded which allows us to feed anyone who seeks a meal without having to provide proof of poverty. We believe that anyone who is humble enough to walk into a soup kitchen should be given a meal and not asked for a tax return to prove need. This approach has enabled us to continue our mission to connect working families struggling with food insecurity with resources they need to maintain housing, medical and childcare payments. We thank you for helping us to feed the Hudson Valley, one meal at a time.

School’s Out Program
In 2009 The Queens Galley first partnered with the YMCA of Kingston to bring a bagged lunch for the kids attending the drop in snow day program. That lunch included a sandwich (peanut butter/jelly or alternate protein sandwich such as freshly made chicken salad with apple and craisin), a 100% juice box, half pint of low fat Boices milk, a fruit and a whole grain nut free snack item.

The only requirement we asked is that the lunch be given to every child attending so that no child suffered the stigma of being the ‘poor kid’.

2010-2011 the program expanded to include the Boys and Girls Club of Kingston and over 100 kids were supplied with lunch on every day that school closed for snow.

For the the 2012- 2013 winter season The Queens Galley would like to include the Everett Hodge center in Mid-town Kingston and the number of kids living at or below the poverty line that will be served will total 300 per school closed event. The city of Kingston plans for seven snow days and as such The Queens Galley has planned to provide lunch on seven snow event days for 300 kids.

While the seven snow days have eased some of the hardship for low income families and have increased access to nutrition in the form of the 2100 meals we have served between 2009-2011, it is not enough.

The Queens Galley is expanding the program that will guarantee wholesome nutritious kid friendly food for another 100 kids during the extended summer break

Currently the only summer meal programs in Kingston are the soup kitchens that operate at locations not directly affiliated with youth programs. Our own soup Kitchen served over 10,000 meals last year during the month of August alone.

Of particular note for one program hosted at the YMCA and coordinated by the Kingston Consolidated School System with assistance from Family of Woodstock is camp Seahorse. The Queens Galley will provide lunch every weekday July through August for this onsite camp at the YMCA for homeless 3-6 year old children.

These particular groups of kids are living in shelters or transition motels without adequate cooking or food storage facilities. The meal we serve here is critically important.

The camp Seahorse poses significant challenges to us with diet nuances associated with that age group.

Foods must be prepared in a way that eliminates choking hazard. Foods, especially hard items such as raw carrot must be cut to a specific size or shape to be consumed safely by a four year old.

This lunch program must also be nut free (and at least one option free of nut butters) as well as elimination of honey as a sweetener from all recipes. Those food items are high allergen risk foods and often complicate immune systems in children under the age of five. Homeless children often have compromised immune systems because of lack of proper nutrition and preventative medical care.

The challenge to our culinary staff includes the mandate that the menu be “Kid exciting” not simply kid friendly. Children from this camp will be returning at the end of each day to shelters and welfare motels where food storage and cooking ability are limited or uncertain. A wholesome lunch becomes wholesome only when it is eaten. The menu items must be nutrient dense but enticing enough to be strongly desired by the kids who will rely on this meal as the sole source of nutritive calories for the day.

Sadly, the kid’s menu items at this location must also be finger or fork friendly. Many homeless kids will not learn to navigate a spoon to mouth until after the age of six.

We need to make every bite count. Every child should have access to wholesome food, fresh fluid milk, real fruit and vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Food should be interesting and inviting for very young children for whom this may be the only meal of the day.

The Queens Galley has always operated exclusively from donation and not government support. By staying true to this cornerstone ideology we can feed every child this summer and each one of them fed without the difficult stigma associated with a label of being “the poor kid”. All of our kids deserve the right to eat real food.