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New Canton Neighborhood Center director hopes to expand food program

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CANTON — The Canton Neighborhood Center’s new director wants to expand public participation in a monthly food program that’s open to all community residents regardless of their income level.

Leacy M. DuPre, 22, has replaced Lisa M. VanKirk at the neighborhood center, 5 West St. Before graduating in December from SUNY Potsdam, Ms. DuPre worked as an intern at the Potsdam Neighborhood Center, which gave her experience she’s using in her new position. She was a community health major and received a minor in sexual health.

She also interned at the North Country Prenatal, Perinatal Council, Watertown, and volunteered at Renewal House, a Canton organization that provides housing for victims of domestic violence.

“I’ve always wanted to do this kind of work,” Ms. DuPre said. “I like interacting with people. I’m making a lot of connections.”

She is working to promote Food Sense, a program that allows community members to order packages of food once per month for $15.50. The boxes contain an estimated $30 worth of food, including meat and fresh produce. The food is supplied and delivered by the Food Bank of Central New York, a nonprofit organization based in Syracuse that works to eliminate hunger through nutritious food distribution.

Last month, 37 packages were ordered through the Canton Neighborhood Center and Miss DuPre would like more people to try out the Food Sense program.

“I’d like to let people know it’s not income-based,” shesaid.

The Canton Neighborhood Center also operates a food pantry for income-eligible families and a thrift shop that sells gently-used clothing, shoes, some household items, books and toys.

The neighborhood center also is participating in the Canton Bear backpack program, which provides food to students during vacation breaks and weekends.

Donations to the food pantry and thrift shop are always welcome. Dairy products, milk powder and maternity clothes are in short supply.

The Neighborhood Center is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. It is closed the first Friday of every month and for major holidays. The center can be reached by email at cantonnc@slccdp.org or by phone at 386-3541.

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