Hudson Valley Parent

HVP - Feb. 2014

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I am a Hudson Valley Parent Diane Reeder: From hungry to hero By KATHLEEN WILLCOX F ood, clothing, shelter — these are three of the foundations of parenting. But what if the first gets taken away? About 21% of Hudson Valley children are currently dealing with food insecurity, according to Feeding America. One Kingston mother found herself on the wrong side of that statistic a decade ago. Diane Reeder woke up one day in 2003 practically unable to move. She had been exhausted for weeks and was suffering from debilitating headaches, but she assumed she was just a typical run-down working mom. When Reeder learned that she had became acutely sick from chronic exposure to carbon monoxide (her employer at the time had a faulty heating system), and was told that she would need physical therapy just to walk again, her first thought was, "How are we going to eat?" With only $12.50 a week to spend on food for a family of five, she didn't despair. She got creative. Reeder, a chef who has been attending the Culinary Institute of America on and off since 1991, took what she had available to her through Women, Infants and Children, a government food program for families, and crafted gourmet dinners with little more than dried beans and milk. "I would take those seven gallons of milk that we got and make our own ricotta and mozzarella cheese," she says. "We also got a farmer's market voucher once every season, and I'd really capitalize on the fresh fruit and vegetables for as long as I could." Through physical therapy, intense Reeder enjoys a sundae with her daughters, Olivia, 10, and Caitlin, 18, at her candy shop. effort and her family's support, Reeder was able to slowly regain her strength and mobility. She launched the Queens Galley food pantry in Kingston in 2007. In addition to providing meals 365 days a year, the Queens Galley offered educational and support programs for families. Funded exclusively by private and corporate donation, the Queen's Galley served more than 10,000 meals a month before closing its doors in mid-December after her landlord announced he was selling the building. Reeder and the board of directors are currently in the process of negotiations for a new venue for her soup kitchen and her other food "I spend my days trying to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables, and my nights selling candy to their parents. But it's all about balance!" programs, including School's Out, a program that provides free or reduced lunches to children when school is not in session. In the meantime, Reeder helps fund her budding nutritional empire with vegetable's polar opposite: a candy bar in the heart of uptown Kingston. "One night I was eating at Gabriel's Café with my daughters (Megan, 23, Caitlin, 18, and Olivia, 10) and we found ourselves wishing that we could walk around town with a really good ice-cream cone after dinner," Reeder says. A storefront attached to her husband's business, Knightly Endeavors, opened up on 319 Wall St., and Reeder's momentary craving turned into the Kingston Candy Bar, which sells vintage candy, Jane's Ice Cream and has a lemonade stand run by Olivia. Reeder openly acknowledges the irony of her position. "I spend my days trying to get kids to eat fruits and vegetables, and my nights selling candy to their parents," she laughs. "But it's all about balance!" Speaking of balance, Reeder says their stint with food insecurity drew the family closer, and forced them to reconsider their priorities. Now, they spend as much free time as they can muster together. The future of the Queens Galley is unclear. But with Reeder behind it, it is difficult to imagine that it isn't inevitable. One thing is certain: the Queens Galley needs volunteers and donations "more than ever," Reeder says. For more information or to volunteer for the Queens Galley, call 845-338-3468. n Hudson Valley Parent 11

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