OCO to Prepare ‘Blizzard Bags’

FULTON, NY – Even though it is only November and the weather is nice, members of Oswego County Opportunities’ Nutrition Services are planning for another winter season.

Girl Scouts representing 10 troops with the Oswego Girl Scout Unit display some of the “Blizzard Bags” they prepared for Oswego County Opportunities’ Home Delivered Meal program.
Girl Scouts representing 10 troops with the Oswego Girl Scout Unit display some of the “Blizzard Bags” they prepared for Oswego County Opportunities’ Home Delivered Meal program.

Each year, with the help of caring businesses, organizations and community members, OCO’s Nutrition Services prepares and distributes hundreds of “Blizzard Bags” to home delivered clients throughout Oswego County.

The “Blizzard Bags” program provides OCO’s clients with an emergency supply of food in the event that they are unable to receive their regular meal due to inclement weather conditions.

Each “Blizzard Bag” is individually prepared and labeled and contains an assortment of food items along with a cheery note to brighten the recipient’s day and explain the purpose of the “Blizzard Bag.”

Last winter, more than 750 “blizzard Bags” were delivered to OCO’s home delivered meal clients with another 100 distributed to clients at OCO’s dining and activity centers.

With the “Blizzard Bag” project entering its eleventh year, OCO’s Nutrition Services is looking forward to partnering with volunteers and other community members to gather food items, decorate food bags and put them all together to ensure that the program will be ready to go when the snow starts to fly.

“Our ‘Blizzard Bag’ program has been well received by both our clients and the community,” said Support Services Manager and Volunteer Coordinator Christine Parks. “Thanks to the generous donations we receive from local grocery stores, concerned community members, service groups and our own OCO employees, we are able to ensure that our clients will have a nutritious meal on hand in the event that winter weather prevents the home delivery of their meal or if they are unable to visit one of our dining and activity sites.”

According to Parks she has received many phone calls from community groups that want to participate in this year’s OCO’s “Blizzard Bag” project.

Among them are nine Methodist Churches in Oswego County, which have participated each of the past three years.

Under the direction of Pastor Elise Skiles, these churches have chosen OCO’s “Blizzard Bag” program for their fall focus and have committed to donating 200 filled “Blizzard Bags” this year.

Several Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops are also involved in the “Blizzard Bag” project.

“The last three years the Oswego Girl Scout unit, which consists of 10 Girl Scout troops, has gathered on a Saturday in November for their ‘Thanksgiving Dinner Event’ at the Fulton Municipal Building to enjoy a complete Thanksgiving dinner. During this event the girls decorate ‘Blizzard Bags,’ make greeting cards, and make ornaments for the bags. Every year they assemble more than 100 filled blizzard bags,” added Parks.

In addition to the Scout troops elementary school students throughout Oswego County also participate in the “Blizzard Bag” program.

The students make cards and ornaments to decorate the bags, collect food donations, and help fill the bags.

“The students enjoy being a part of this community project and it’s becoming more popular each year. Last year we welcomed Hasting-Mallory Elementary in Central Square and they are joining us again this year. Under the direction of Jennifer Senf the school has hosted two special after school events for the students to meet and prepare ‘Blizzard Bags’ for distribution. Parents and teachers join the students and School Principal Lawrence Wink even arranged for buses to take the students home after the event,” said Parks.

OCO is currently accepting donations of food and paper bags for this year’s “Blizzard Bags.”

Donation boxes can be found in the lobby of OCO’s main office, 239 Oneida St. in Fulton; OCO Nutrition Services’ kitchen site at 5871 Scenic Ave. in Mexico; and beginning December 1 at any of OCO’s six Dining and Activity Centers.

Food items most in need of include:

–          Oatmeal packets

–          Ramen noodles/soup packets/mac & cheese cups

–          Cereal bars

–          Small packaged crackers

–          Small packaged cookies

–          Small juice bottles/juice boxes

–          Hot Cocoa packets

–          Tea Bags

–          Hard candies

–          Microwave dish or packets

–          Fruit and pudding cups

–          Small can soups

–          Decorated bags

–          Greeting card for a senior

OCO is also accepting donations of pet food so that they can offer “Pet Blizzard Bags” for their clients who have pets.

OCO’s “Blizzard Bags” program is truly a community endeavor.

Organizations, businesses, families and individuals partner with OCO Nutrition Services to support the project.

“The bags that we use are donated by Bob’s Liquors and Discount Liquors of Fulton and members of the Fulton Sunrise Rotary volunteer their time to the OCO Nutrition Services site in Mexico to fill our “Blizzard Bags.  With all of this help from our community partners, this will be an awesome year for our home delivered clients,” added Parks.

For more information on donating or volunteering to assist with OCO’s “Blizzard Bag” project, call Parks at 598-4712 ext. 1807 or visit www.oco.org.

Oswego County Opportunities is celebrating 50 years of service to the Oswego County community in 2016.

To learn more about OCO’s past, present and future, visit www.oco.org.