Southern Tier Tuesdays: Traci CARES awarded $2,000 grant

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Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 3:22 PM EDT
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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- Traci CARES is this week’s winner of a $2,000 grant from Upstate Shredding through Southern Tier Tuesdays.

Traci CARES (Community Adult Resource Education Services) center and food pantry is the result of an idea from Benjamin Franklin Elementary School Social Worker Jessica Waffle.

“We needed to create our own food pantry or our own food supply for students,” Waffle said. “Food insecurity is a big problem in our community we wanted to do something more to help our students and our families at Benjamin Franklin Elementary.”

Benjamin Franklin Elementary School Principal Kyle Skinner said Traci CARES was named in honor of pre-K teacher Traci Simrell who passed away from COVID-19.

“Traci was one of the most caring, loving individuals you would ever meet in your life, she really had a passion for teaching children and getting to know families and building relationships,” Skinner said. “With us starting the food pantry at the same time as Traci’s passing it was just a natural fit to be able to honor her name with the food pantry and the community resource center that’s attached to it.”

Skinner said the food pantry has served between 1,200 to 1,400 pounds of food on any given week to the families of Benjamin Franklin Elementary School.

“We offer frozen foods, refrigerated foods, fresh produce, and this is all through the Food Bank of the Southern Tier,” Skinner said. “We’re currently on-boarding diapers as well as helping families through the formula shortages.”

During the school year, the food pantry is open to the community for two hours prior to school dismissal on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“With summer starting we are going to be open Wednesdays from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. when our summer program is taking place,” Waffle said.

This grant money will be used to offset food costs at the pantry as well as fund family community involvement nights at the Traci CARES center.

Southern Tier Tuesdays is a philanthropic endeavor of Adam Weitsman, owner of Upstate Shredding, and his daughter, Clover. For more information or to nominate a Southern Tier non-profit go to