For Richard Synek, honoring and helping veterans in need is not a choice, but a calling. Recognizing that millions of US Veterans are at-risk of becoming homeless and going hungry, Rich founded Feed Our Vets.
As the Founder and Executive Director of Feed Our Vets, Rich works tirelessly to give back to the men and women who have given so much to our country.
Before starting Feed Our Vets, Rich held a position as Postmaster in Vernon Center, NY. One day, a World War II Veteran came into the Post Office and bought a single stamp. Befriending the Veteran, Rich recommended that he buy a book of stamps instead. The Veteran shared that he and his wife only had enough money to eat properly for two weeks out of the month and that the last few days of the month, they often had nothing to eat at all. Being a man of action, Rich and his wife went out that night and bought groceries for the Veteran. Through this experience, Rich sought out to raise awareness of the widespread problem of Veteran hunger. As a result, he and his wife established the first Feed Our Vets Food Pantry in Utica.
The mission of Feed Our Vets is to help with food disparities that military Veterans and active duty military members may face. They do this by stocking a food pantry with packaged goods and fresh fruit and vegetables that Veterans can take home to feed their families. Rich’s vision of feeding hungry and homeless Veterans has grown tremendously since the first care package he delivered in 2005. Today, Feed Our Vets is able to provide free food assistance to more than 20,000 veterans and their families and distributes over 445,000 lbs. of food in Central New York.
Rich was stationed on the USS Peterson in Libya in 1986. He knows first-hand what it’s like to step up and serve his country proudly. He has never wavered from his patriotism for his country or his fellow soldiers and continues to surround himself with veterans and their families through veteran organizations. It is not uncommon to find Rich at the local coffee shop talking to Veterans’ asking them about their service.
“Rich easily is the most compassionate person I know--the kind of person who goes out of his way to help our veterans every day” says Melissa Kehler, Chief Strategy Officer at Feed Our Vets. Rich also devotes his time to various civic organizations, including Spring Farm Cares, the Flags for Heroes and Families Project, and serves on his local congresswomen's veterans committee.
When asked why he founded Feed Our Vets, Richard Synek says,
“It’s important to help play a role in feeding America’s hungry veterans who’ve done their part in protecting us.”
Too often, Rich explains, fellow veterans are pressed with the choice of either choosing to use whatever money they have to eat or heat their home.