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Countless businesses chip in to help feed students in Seneca County’s school districts

Thousands of meals will be delivered this week to children enrolled in each of Seneca County’s four school districts.  Among the items packaged for lunch will be an individually-wrapped, 14-oz piece of mild cheddar cheese from the Muranda Cheese Company in Waterloo.

The product, brand-new for 2020, is being donated free of charge to help local schools meet the demand of feeding their students during the COVID-19 shutdown.  Across the country, nearly 30 million children rely on school-related programs for food. It ranks as the nation’s second largest anti-hunger effort behind food stamps and underscores a major problem facing our region.

“It’s just something we thought we could do for the community,” said Tom Murray, owner of Muranda Cheese.  “We’ve never done anything like this before, but we knew we had the inventory and it could be utilized immediately.”

The family business has committed 2,200 units over the next two weeks to the program.  They hope the farm-to-school effort will not only promote healthier eating for students and their families, but it will also motivate other businesses to help community organizations in need.

“As the Coronavirus pandemic continues to impact our public health and economic well-being, the generosity of our local business community has been a beacon of hope and inspiration,” added Jeff Shipley, President & CEO of the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce. “Their collective efforts serve as a reminder of the diverse resources that our region has to offer when faced with adversity.”

But they weren’t the only business to help out, and assist local school districts with feeding students who might struggle with food access.

In addition to Muranda Cheese, other local business relief efforts include:

  • Rue Claire Lavender Farm & Artisan Chocolate has started a T-shirt sale fundraiser called Grub for Scrubs.  All proceeds go towards meal purchases at local restaurants which will be delivered to local healthcare workers.  Purchase or donate here:
  • STEPS is encouraging residents to make triple-fold cotton face masks for healthcare workers and patients!  Bring your masks to Ovid Community Health and leave them in the boxes outside the main doors.  Call 607.403.0065 when you’re on your way.  For detailed instructions on how to make a triple-fold cotton face mask, contact STEPS or the Chamber.
  • Bank of the Finger Lakes is offering interest-only with no fees on many products for up to six months.
  • BonaDent Dental Laboratories gathered personal protective equipment to donate to local healthcare workers.  BonaDent is also manufacturing 3D-printed face shields to donate to Finger Lakes Health.
  • CFCU Community Credit Union is offering low interest personal loans, as well as assistance for those experiencing COVID-19 related financial hardship that have mortgage and home equity loans.  CFCU has also expanded its drive-thru services and waived many of its fees.
  • Community Bank has provided lunch to its employees to support local restaurants and continues to serve its customers loyally while following the recommended social distancing procedures.
  • Dave and Rita’s Bakery is offering free (donation-based) loaves of bread to anyone in need who stops in.
  • Del Lago Resort and Casino donated its food stock to those in need.

  • Finger Lakes Distilling is making hand sanitizer using the formula recommended by the FDA to be provided in bulk quantities to local healthcare providers and other services such as law enforcement.
  • Generations Bank now has a deferment plan for business and personal retail products of up to 4 months. This deferment includes both Principle and Interest — effectively extending the loan terms (up to 4 months).  Generations Bank also has established a loan program to help with specific expenses (rent, groceries, necessities of daily living) and provides unsecured assistance up to $2,500.
  • The Gould Hotel provided free meals to those in need when clearing out its food stock.
  • ITT employees who can are working from home.  Several times ITT has provided lunch from local restaurants for those that are working on-site.  ITT is providing gloves and masks to its interested employees and will soon be taking temperatures of employees using a no-contact thermometer.  ITT has also donated face masks to Finger Lakes Health.
  • Littlejohn & Barbi Orthodontics donated 18 boxes of surgical masks to Geneva General Hospital, $500 to the Geneva Rotary Backpack Program to help feed children, and $300 to the Seneca County House of Concern to help them with food distributions.
  • LNB is going to provide lunch to its employees to support local restaurants and is following social distancing guidelines while still able to serve its clients.  If you’re an LNB customer, be sure to keep your phone on you, because employees are calling customers just to check in to make sure they are alright and to try to spread some positivity.
  • Ovid Big M instituted seniors only shopping hours on Tuesdays and Saturdays 7 – 8 AM.
  • Seneca County Community Counseling has launched a telehealth program and is treating clients for all therapy services, intakes and assessments.

  • Seneca Meadows has been redirecting resources to food pantries around Seneca County to help ensure that everyone in need has basic food and living necessities – including the Interlaken Reformed Church which was able to make sure that everyone received a loaf of bread.  In recognition of doing a difficult job safely, frontline team members are also receiving a supplemental pay program.
  • Summit Federal Credit Union is now offering an Emergency Personal Loan for members needing extra cash.
  • Swedish Hill Winery has teamed up with O’Begley Distillery in Pittsford, New York, to produce hand sanitizer that will be donated to hospitals.  In response to COVID-19, the winery shipped 330 gallons of wine to O’Begleys, who will in turn distill it to produce higher alcohol and then subsequently produce a hand sanitizer that will be donated to hospitals in the area.
  • Waterloo Container is providing bottles to its customers that have converted to hand sanitize production.
  • Waterloo Laundry Depot provided 100 free lunches to community members on Friday, March 27th—half were distributed to customers and neighbors and the other half were donated to a local food pantry.