Several years ago Paul Feiner, the Greenburgh Town Supervisor, invited the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry to give a presentation at a Greenburgh Town Board meeting. Benny Rodriguez, Marc Taiano and I spoke about the service the Pantry provides to the community. After our talks, Mr. Feiner rose and spoke the following words, which I have always greatly appreciated:
“The Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry is my favorite charity because every penny donated goes to the people who are in need. It is run entirely by volunteers and no one receives a salary.”
Today, those volunteers served 131 families, including 40 deliveries, for a total of 478 people. We distributed boxes of shelf stable food, bags of fresh vegetables, fruit, milk, cereals, dairy products from Mom’s Organics, and baked goods from Panera, NY Bagel Authority and The Shop. This is all made possible by the generous donations from our community churches, organizations and businesses as well as from individuals.
We are having a fundraiser at The Bit restaurant on Cedar Street on Thursday, October 21. After 5 PM a percentage of the bill (dine in or out) will be given to the DFFP. Please come or order out after 5 PM.
“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
This week’s newsletter written by one of the first friendly faces you see at The Pantry, Mary Anne Griggs, longtime Pantry volunteer.
Hello neighbors! We’re so proud to be part of a community that supports one another. Here at the Pantry, volunteers show up every day to organize a wide range of tasks including pick-ups, deliveries, and donations. This week, we’ve distributed food and other resources to help over 450 people (families, new clients, and home deliveries).
October marks our 10th year of the Dobbs Ferry food pantry! Please join us on Sunday, October 17th at 10:00 a.m. at South Presbyterian Church for a special celebration in Fellowship Hall. We’re so grateful to Stop & Shop, MOM’S Organic Market, Panera, The Shop in Ardsley, and New York Bagel Authority for their generous support. We also want to thank Girl Scout Troop 2165 from Dobbs who helped put away deliveries and recycle cardboard this week. Now more than ever, it’s vital that we take care of each other.
How can you help? Have you checked out The Bit’s new menu? Be sure to stop in Thursday, October 21st starting at 5:00 p.m. 15% of all orders will go to the Dobbs Ferry Pantry (take-out too). Additionally, we have a bin for non-perishable donations to the left of the South Church’s double church doors with the mail slot.
Items most needed this week: Peanut butter (no glass!), diapers (size 6), wipes, and Stop & Shop gift cards.
“No act of kindness no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop
This week’s newsletter written by our Mom’s Organics table host, Alisha Neumaier, who inspires even the most rabid carnivore to beg her for fair trade, organic, environmentally grown quinoa.
To help feed our neighbors—this week we provided food to 467 people, including our monthly evening hours—we rely on donations of food and money, volunteers devoted to helping others, and the support of Feeding Westchester.
This food bank sources and distributes food and other resources to 225 food pantries, soup kitchens, schools, shelters, residential programs, and mobile food distributions in the county. Feeding Westchester is a member of Feeding America, a nonprofit network of 200 food banks in the U.S. and the largest domestic hunger-relief organization.
Karen Erren is president and CEO of Feeding Westchester. To find out more about the people facing hunger in our county, we interviewed Karen by email. Her answers have been edited for brevity.
Q. How many people need food from Feeding Westchester and its community partners? Prior to COVID-19 our network of community partners and programs served 125,000 to 150,000 people a month. During the height of the pandemic, however, that number more than doubled. Currently, we are still serving nearly 225,000 neighbors each month on average.
Q. Those numbers are surprising. What’s going on? One thing I’ve learned being a food banker for more than 15 years is that our neighbors who are hungry are just like you, me, any of us. They are hard working, they are parents, seniors who worked their whole lives, and they simply may not have the family network or safety net that so many of us have. And the cost of living in Westchester is high, well above the national average. We see individuals and families with income levels of $15,000 a year, $30,000 a year—significantly below the county’s median household income of just over $96,000. Those incomes are impossible to live on, let alone thrive on.
Q. How do Feeding Westchester programs address people of all ages? While our primary goal is to get nutritious food to anyone who needs it, we do create and adapt our feeding programs for various groups. Nearly 1 in 6 children in Westchester face hunger. With our community partners, meal programs, and direct distributions, we ensure that kids are able to get the nutritious food they need through our child- feeding programs: breakfast and lunch bags, school pantries, school distributions, or direct deliveries. Our senior grocery program encourages better health and promotes independent living for our seniors and neighbors with disabilities, providing nutritious food directly to them where they live. These are just a few of the many ways we work collaboratively to ensure that all of our neighbors have food in a way that is accessible for them.
Q. Will there ever be a time when food pantries are no longer needed in Westchester, and what does it take to get us there? I hope there is a time where our services are less needed, or frankly not at all, but there is still much work to be done. While getting as much food on as many tables as possible, for any of our neighbors who need it, is still our primary goal, we are asking how we can do that better. What gaps exist? How can we provide more culturally relevant food to our diverse populations? How can we collaborate with more local anti-poverty organizations to ensure that our neighbors in need have access to the help they need? For now, we remain where we have been for the last 33 years—at the forefront of hunger relief for Westchester.
A Million Thanks!
The Scarsdale Woman’s Club, with members from over two- dozen communities in Westchester and Rockland counties, has long supported our pantry by regularly hosting food drives.
These ninth graders, members of Girl Scout troop 1688 in Dobbs Ferry, held a food drive for the Pantry at Stop & Shop, collecting a carload of food and diapers.
What makes a community? We see it every week at the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry. Our amazing volunteers take pride in arranging each table with love, wanting our clients to feel like they are at a farmers market. The bonds are strong between the volunteers and this community in need. They know the volunteers by name and continually thank us with “God Bless You”. But we’ve already been blessed by knowing this beautiful, gracious community that just needs a helping hand.
Hudson Social rocked the Pantry this week! On Tuesday 9/21, Hudson Social donated 15% of their profits to the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry. The food was amazing, the drinks were delicious and the company was wonderful…all for a fantastic cause! The Bit is up next on Thursday 10/21, also donating 15% of profits to the Pantry. Have some fun and please make a reservation at The Bit for you and your friends. We are looking forward to engaging all our local restaurants to participate throughout the year.
How are you celebrating your birthday this year?
Harry Greenberg set a great example! Through the Share Your Wish Foundation, 4-year-old Harry’s birthday wish was to make a charitable donation to the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry. With the help of his friends, Harry contributed $85.68! Well, it’s not just for 4-year-olds. Instead of birthday gifts for her 65th this year, Deborah Fantone asked her friends via social media to send diapers for the Pantry. Before long she was inundated with boxes of diapers from around the country! These examples of selflessness and generosity are amazing!
Today our numbers were up over recent weeks – we served 126 families, with 38 deliveries and in-person pickups for 88 households, most of them seemingly in a very busy first half hour. Our enthusiastic and energetic teens were back in the classroom, which left us older volunteers to do more shlepping and our families themselves pitching in.
This week we received two grants, both very welcome. We were awarded $3000 from Giving Circle of Lower Westchester, a volunteer, grassroots not-for-profit organization whose member donations go directly to fund hunger relief; the grant will cover some of the costs of reconfiguring our operation so that South Presbyterian Church could resume in-person services. In the 15 months that worship was virtual-only, the Pantry had come to rely on the sanctuary, and we purchased shelving, tables, and screens so as to move off the pews and into other spaces. The second generous grant came from The Peluso Family Foundation.
With the start of school came the return of bounty from the Dobbs Ferry schools: fresh produce from the Springhurst garden, packaged single-serve cafeteria leftovers, and the results from a food drive at the end of the last school year that finally found their way to us! And Stop & Shop donated eight cases of food.
She’s back! Today our families welcomed the return of volunteer extraordinaire Ellen Flaks, back from a paying gig at a summer camp to oversee her table of fabulous freebies. Over time, Ellen has come to know who likes what and has it ready, along with a cheery greeting, as they approach. It’s no accident that the Freebie table is such a big draw that we’ve made it the last stop on the circuit.
Dine Out for a Cause. Now, coming from Louisiana I don’t need an excuse to pick up a Shrimp Po’ Boy from Hudson Social. But in case y’all do, you should know that next Tuesday, September 21, Hudson Social (in the old train station) will donate 15% to the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Eat in or take out. I know someone who plans to stop in for breakfast and return for dinner. I plan to take my po’ boy to the park for lunch. I’m pretty sure there’s something on the menu for you.
Looking ahead, we plan similar fundraising partnerships with one local restaurant a month. Next up on October 21st: The Bit (formerly The Rare Bit).
What we need most: size 5 & 6 diapers, adult diapers, canned fruits.
This week we treated the 98 families we fed to a gourmet tasting prepared by our newest volunteer, Stephanie “Chefanie” Wright.
Stephanie is a nutrition-focused Ayurvedic chef, founder of The Wright Methods and former Chef de Cuisine of the Assemblage.
Here’s what Stephanie had to say about her experience at the Pantry –
“We had the privilege of sharing a taste of summer this week with a sampling of grilled peaches with mint. Peaches are coming into their prime this time of year and we wanted to show how to make the most of seasonal flavors in an interesting way by grilling up the sweet stone fruit with some cinnamon and mint. The cinnamon helps the body process and digest the natural sugars of the fruit to reduce potential insulin spikes that can be caused by eating sugars and the mint provides a fresh, cooling taste to balance the smokiness of the grill. You can try the grilled peaches out for yourself by following the recipe below:
Ingredients: Serves 4
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 ripe peaches, halved and pitted and sliced into quarters
1 tablespoon ghee, divided
Mint leaves, for garnish
1 lime, juiced
Place the sliced peaches into a large bowl and add the cinnamon to allow the spice to combine with the natural sugars of the peach
Heat grill to high. Place a seasoned cast iron pan onto the grill and add a teaspoon of ghee for each peach that you are grilling.
Grill each peach for up to a minute or until the peach starts turning golden brown
Remove from heat to let cool and garnish with mint leaves and lime juice
“I had so much fun facilitating the grilled peaches tasting at the food bank yesterday! Thank you so much for allowing me to experiment and giving me a platform to share what I love to do”
We here at the Pantry are always looking for ways to continue to feed our community with dignity and respect. We hope that small touches like tablecloths and tastings will make it feel more like a farmers market than a food bank. Thank you, Chefanie, for helping us toward that goal!
Most needed items this week: dried beans (1 lb bags), size 6 diapers, canned fruit, adult diapers.
This week’s newsletter written mostly by Stephanie with a little Gretchen thrown in.
September One and despite rain, heavy at times, the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry served 98 families this week, representing 327 people including 38 deliveries. That’s 60 families who needed to stand in the rain for the shelf-stable food, fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, milk, cheese and cereal to put sufficient healthy food on the table.
Paradoxically, the previous week was our second highest turnout on record – so the need remains and is likely to remain for some time to come.
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We turn again now to tip our collective hats to those supporters who continue to come through with donations of food and dollars time and again:
Diane and Ed Steinberg regularly leave donations of things we frequently are in most need of, e.g., tomato sauce. Mom’s Organic, located at Newtown Square along the Saw Mill River Parkway, continues to supply us with the best in healthy dairy products on a regular basis. Michelle Peluso regularly answers the bell when co-director Vera Halpenny sends up the flare for diapers and wipes. And we’d like to thank Dobbs Ferry Historical Society anchors Larry and Peggie Blizard for a very generous donation to the Food Pantry on the last night of the Jazz Forum at Riverfront Park.
For those of you working for large companies, you might want to enquire whether your firm participates in matched funding for contributions you make to the Food Pantry.
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Good news arrived from our good friends at Stop ‘n Shop: The Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry has been selected for the month of October 2021 to receive a $1 donation for every $10.99 “Bloomin’ 4 Good” Bouquet with the red circle sticker sold at our local store here on Broadway and Cedar.
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Items most needed this week: canned vegetables and canned fruit
We have a bin for non-perishable donations to the left of the double church doors with the mail slot.
This week’s newsletter written by our very own MacGyver, Duke Coffey.
Yesterday, despite the heat, we served a total of 173 families, 621 people, 59 of those were seniors. As it was the last Wednesday of the month, we were distributing food in the evening as well, a record 23 families showed up then.
We continue to grow in numbers and only hope our donations can keep pace with this expansion. But all our volunteers are truly committed to making a difference to our neighbors in need. Our newest volunteer, Stephanie Wright, comes from a long history of working for not for profits. She wanted to make an impact on her community and joined us two weeks ago.
This week also commemorates the 80th week we’ve been operating during the pandemic. And 30 of those weeks we were able to provide hot meals from local restaurants. The community was a tremendous resource for us and still is. We have a wonderful connection with Panera Bread on Central Avenue. Below is Sue who is always there to pack up bakery goods and does so graciously after working a ten hour shift.
There are many other resources we are grateful for: bagels from New York Bagel Authority and The Shop in Ardsley, Sara Selitti for diaper drives, Stop & Shop for boxes of goods on a monthly basis – big kudos to manager Jim Luksis for encouraging shoppers to buy and donate items to the pantry! Temple Beth Shalom for weekly vegetables; Michelle Pelluso and family for ongoing donations and volunteerism; Elmswood Day Camp and director Leora Cohen; and to those of you who have made donations large and small on our website. We couldn’t continue to do what we do without you!
Biggest needs: 1 lb. bags of rice, size 6 diapers and baby wipes and adult diapers. Keep in mind when donating, we prefer regular sized items rather than large Costco sized items, such as peanut butter or rice. We cannot open any donations and separate them into smaller units.
Thank you all for being a part of something bigger than any of us.
This week’s newsletter was written by Pantry Co-Director, Vera Halpenny, aka: the diaper lady.
What brought me to volunteering at the Pantry was my desire to give back to my community and help those in need. But what surprised me is that a big part of what keeps me coming back each week is the inspiration and energy I get from my fellow volunteers: neighbors of all ages and backgrounds who selflessly give their time and skills, week in and week out. Senior citizens, teenagers and everyone in between who commit to hauling boxes of food, setting up tables, vacuuming the church, and most importantly, offering those who come to us for food a smiling face and an ear to listen.
Our 100% volunteer-run organization distributes food at South Presbyterian Church on Wednesdays from 10-12, but there are many, many more of hours during the rest of the week when dozens of volunteers work behind the scenes to make those two hours happen.
On Monday mornings we have a group of 5-6 volunteers who meet at the church to receive a pallet of canned food from Feeding Westchester. Those boxes need to be lugged into the church, opened, emptied and put away on shelves. Then the boxes need to be broken down and recycled. In the evening, we have a different crew of 6-8 volunteers who set up a boxing station and build and fill between 120-160 boxes of non-perishable foods to be given out on Wednesday. This crew stays about 2-3 hours filling boxes, restocking inventory and cleaning up after themselves so that the church barely knows that we were there.
On Tuesday mornings volunteers receive a weekly order from Driscoll’s, food items that we pay for using the generous donations we receive from the community. On Tuesday evenings, yet another group of volunteers meet at the church to sort and bag up another 120-160 bags of fresh produce that we get from sources such as Green Thumb from Feeding Westchester, Fable Farm, Temple Beth-Shalom, and even small donations from local community gardens. Another volunteer picks up donations from New York Bagel Authority in Dobbs Ferry, another from Panera Bread in Scarsdale. and yet another from The Shop in Ardsley. A father/son team stop by Mom’s Organic Market to load our refrigerators and freezer with dairy items generously donated by the store.
At various times throughout the week and the month, duties include picking up donations from Stop & Shop, attending a bi-weekly meeting with Feeding Westchester, posting to the Pantry’s social media sites, writing and posting this newsletter, keeping track of our finances and drumming up more donations – both food and cash (and then thanking said donors!).
On Wednesday mornings volunteers start showing up at 8:30 in the morning to set up tables, bring out food, greet clients who start lining up around the same time, and in inclement weather, set up tents. We have a group of three who organize and sort about 40 deliveries each week to be dropped off at the homes of clients who are not able to make it to the church on Wednesdays and another 5-7 drivers who bring the boxed and bagged food to their doorsteps. We have one volunteer who sorts and packages diapers to be given to our littlest clients. And still others who sort, organize and put away donations left in our bin or delivered to us by groups such as the Scarsdale Women’s Club and Ardsley Methodist Church.
The most important part of the whole operation, in my opinion, happens at noon on Wednesdays. After all of our clients have left with their edibles, we sit as a team of volunteers and discuss what worked, what didn’t, and what we can do better next week. We determine what we’ll need to order for the following week, who will do the ordering, shopping, picking up of what’s needed. We staff out this complex and dynamic schedule of weekly needs. And we congratulate each other on another successful week of hard work and dedication and fulfilling our mission of feeding our neighbors in need.
This week we served 132 families or 488 neighbors and added two new families to our list. Our most needed items this week are diapers (size 6), macaroni and cheese, and rice (1 lb bags).
This week’s newsletter was written by the Pantry Co-Director, Gretchen Skaggs, who knows that no one has made it through life without someone else’s help.
Today, in sweltering heat and dealing with the overbearing sun, our volunteers serviced 123 families amounting to 431 people, and made 39 deliveries to families homes. This is an increase from last week and additionally, today we saw new families join and register for the pantry.
We would like to extend our gratitude to The Panera Bread Company for the generous and extremely helpful donation of breads, pastries and baked goods. Additionally, our thanks goes to The Dobbs Ferry Bagel Authority and The Shop in Ardsley for providing us yet again with plenty of bagels to distribute to our families. To me, “Stocked” is an emotion evoking word; and at the food pantry it can mean a meal, a loaf of bread, or a chance at making it through the week. With the help of these three businesses I am beyond happy to be able to write that this week’s bread table was stocked and abundant.
Special thanks yet again to Sara Selliti for providing the pantry with fantastic herbs and vegetables from the Springhurst Community Gardens! This coupled with her great help in collection and distribution of diapers for children makes Sara an invaluable asset to the pantry.
This week we had a great showing from our high school volunteers!
Students including Dylan Lucasey and Emma Iframoff helped in communication with families. And in particular, Emma’s fluency in Russian impressed everyone and assisted in our ability to help out our non english speaking families. Biliteracy is a unique and special ability extremely valued at the pantry, we are so lucky to have a surplus of volunteers speaking more than their native language.
After a little over a year of volunteering at the pantry, there are many niche pantry things that invigorate me and fill me with joy. Things like having to spend a lot of time bringing produce bags out, knowing that the reason it’s taking so long is because there’s just so much we have to give. Things like, when the pantry closes down for the day we have so much left over that volunteers offer leftover food to other volunteers because they know it’ll go bad and every family has been fed. Like I said, “Stocked” is a beautiful word.
Written By: Adam Galland, a High School Volunteer in Dobbs Ferry, seen below doing quality control on the Panera pastries.