SMITHVILLE – The number of families in Chenango County living at or below the poverty level has reached a staggering number. One local organization has been trying to combat the problem for years, but with little funding and more and more people in need, the organization is falling on hard times.
The Smithville Community’s Assistance Program of Impowerment, or SCAPE, became incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2003, but SCAPE has been helping the community for far longer. Monthly mass food distributions have been held on the second Saturday of each month since 1999. Suzi Hammond heads the organization with a board of approximately nine people, including her husband and Chair of the Board, Vic Hammond.
“The food pantry covers Coventry, Brisben, Greene, Tyner, McDonough, Smithville Center, Smithville Flats and German. It feeds at least 100 families a month,” Vic explained.
Suzi decided she wanted to be a part of the food pantry years ago, after the family fell on rough times. “At the time, we had three young boys, and we needed a little help,” Vic said. He explained how hard it was for the family to find the help they needed and that they were not always treated kindly during the process. “Because of that, if you come down and say you need help, no one questions you. They just give you what you need.”