Food pantry helping those not often thought of as needing one

December 15, 2017 07:03 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - When you think of hunger in the Capital Region who springs to mind? Perhaps those suffering from addiction to alcohol and drugs?

You might be surprised to find out who needs help from food pantries.

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Kenn Whitehouse will be 71-years old next month. At a time when he should be enjoying his golden years, he has to worry about getting enough food to eat.

It wasn't supposed to be this way. He was with H Company, 2nd Ranger Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division. Served in Vietnam for two years.

After the military, he worked as a paramedic for 25 years with the Philadelphia Fire Department. He retired and moved to Saratoga Springs in 1998.

"I was expecting to be sitting back living la dolce vita, the good life," explained Whitehouse.

That changed when Janet, his wife of 35 years, was diagnosed with cancer. The medical bills were piling up and Whitehouse couldn't pay them, so he sold his pension to a company that pays the money up front -- and he paid off the bills for his wife's cancer treatment.

"You get the feeling I don't pay the bills, she's not going to get the stuff and I was not eligible for Medicaid," he noted.

His wife passed away and Whitehouse was left without a pension. He lives on a $1,200 a month Social Security check. After an $800 rent payment, utilities, and food for his service dog, Karlie, there's very little left over for food for himself. So he gets help once a month from the food pantry at Franklin Community Center.

Whitehouse is one of 900 individuals who'd go hungry every month if it wasn't for this food pantry.

"Folks don't want to come here, but are forced and have to come here because of certain circumstances," noted Julie Slovic with Franklin Community Center.

The demand is higher this year than ever.

Whitehouse volunteers his time helping the food pantry. The proud soldier doesn't want people to feel too sorry for him, but hopes some good will come from sharing his story.

"To help other people like me, because I know what it's like and I never expected to be here," he admitted.


WNYT Staff

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