Central New York, Community, Food, Health

Student Delivers Food with a Side of Hope to Local Community

By Elissa Candiotti SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — While many seniors in college are using their free time to apply for full-time jobs, one Syracuse University student is spending that time a bit differently: delivering food with a side of hope to the local community. Senior Antonis Llanio volunteers multiple days each week at Meals on Wheels in Syracuse, addicted to the feeling of giving back.

“Initially I started out here working just an hour requirement but now I come much more often than that,” Llanio said.

Antonis Llanio volunteers at Meals on Wheels outside of his time in the classroom, multiple days a week. (c) 2017 Elissa Candiotti

Llanio balances his time at the organization between running the cold and hot food lines, preparing meals, and boxing them up for deliveries. Although each day volunteering is different from the next, Llanio said the optimistic feeling remains the same.

“This experience has become more fun than anything else for me at this point,” Llanio said. “I know even post-graduation, I’ll be back at Meals on Wheels helping out as best as I can.”

As Llanio hopes to find the job of his dreams in the coming months, he also hopes Meals on Wheels will continue to maintain its success and reputation despite President Donald Trump’s new budget proposal. Last week, President Trump announced a plan that would cut 3 billion dollars from the Community Development Block Grant that funds the Meals on Wheels. Thus, the program has the potential to face a major blow next year.

Dozens of volunteers come to Meals on Wheels in Syracuse each morning to prepare food for delivery. (c) 2017 Elissa Candiotti

“I think the budget cuts will slow us down a little bit but we’re going to find a way to do our work one way or another,” Llanio said. “We may get knocked down at first but we’ll get right back up,” Llanio said.

The Community Relations Director at Syracuse’s Meals on Wheels is working diligently toward promoting that type of positivity to all of the volunteers and customers.

“Our mission is to provide nutritious food to people who need in the community,” Michael Nortman said. “We will continue to do that, no matter what.”

Over 800 deliveries are made each day in Syracuse. (c) 2017 Elissa Candiotti

Since President Trump’s budget plan announcement, donations and and publicity have increased greatly, Nortman said. Llanio views this as a reflection of the volunteers, workers, donators, and supporters in the community, and worldwide.

“The support here is great,” Llanio said. “I encourage everyone to get out there, get to know people, and just get involved. It will make a difference.”