July 3, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – the pantry served fewer people this week than last week!  Maybe we’ve plateaued!  We were expecting more people because the schools are no longer giving free breakfasts and lunches, but it didn’t happen.  Let’s see how the next couple of weeks roll out.  This week the volunteers served 124 families (last week 130), including 253 adults, 165 children and 35 seniors.  A total of 453 people were served on Wednesday (last week 479).  We’re determined to continue to be open every week and to continue giving gift cards every week as long as we can.

          As an extra safety precaution we’ll be taking the temperatures of the volunteers every Wednesday, and also on Mondays while they’re waiting for deliveries from Feeding Westchester.  This is part of the New York State NY Forward Safety Plan, which South Church has asked us to fill out and maintain.  If someone ever has a temperature of over 100.4 they have to go home and be tested.  We’ve been very lucky all this time, but we’re always prepared.  Both the volunteers and the clients wear masks (and we keep extra masks to give anyone who doesn’t have one), and the volunteers wear gloves.  While the pantry is in operation the registration tables are sanitized regularly, and before the pantry is closed the volunteers thoroughly clean and disinfect every surface.  They leave the church absolutely clean.  It’s a lot of work, but the work has paid off.
          Speaking of masks, the office of Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has made free masks available to businesses and nonprofit organizations.  We ordered a big supply so that we’ll always have plenty of masks available for clients and volunteers.
          Another innovation is the introduction of two registration tables instead of one.  This has speeded up the process and the clients don’t have to wait as long to be served.  The pantry is now starting at 9:30 instead of 10:00, specifically for seniors who can’t stand in a long line.
          We’re having a lot of discussions, both among ourselves and with church staff, about how to continue once the weather grows cold.  In the past the clients gathered in the sanctuary to await their turn, but we believe we’ll never go back to serving only 35-40 families a week.  We can’t pack a lot of people into the sanctuary and maintain social distancing.  It’s an ongoing conundrum, and we’ll keep you posted.
          A special shout-out to two families who have been especially nurturing towards the pantry – the Baron family and the McKellar family.  These two families have taken very good care of us, and it seems that both families have cared for Dobbs Ferry in so many different ways.  Thanks to both families, and we’re lucky you live in Dobbs Ferry.
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June 25, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – Well, the pantry set another record yesterday.  We thought the numbers were going down once Westchester moved into Phase 2, but we were wrong.  Yesterday in the morning the volunteers served 121 families, including 247 adults, 158 children and 36 seniors.  Then in the evening they served another 9 families with 23 adults, 13 children and 2 seniors.  This brought us to a total of 130 families served, including 270 adults, 171 children and 38 seniors.  More than any other week.  479 individuals were served yesterday.  In the month of June we averaged 125 families and 464 people served per week.  In May it was 117 families and 438 people served.  In June of 2019 we averaged 39 families and 132 people per week.

          The good news is that we received a small grant from the United Way CARES program, and the Westchester County Department of Planning has made another grant available to pantries.  We need this money because our plan is to continue giving Stop & Shop gift cards to local families, in varying denominations according to the size of the family.  It’s important for us to continue this for now since this is the final week when families in Dobbs Ferry will be receiving free breakfasts and lunches from the School District.  We’re anticipating that the number of people coming to the pantry may increase in the coming weeks, due to the loss of these meals.
          Speaking of grants, thanks so much to those of you, on this list and elsewhere, who have kept us going with your monetary and food donations.  People in the area have been more than generous, which has made it possible for us to continue to help so many needy families.
          As an example, the Ardsley Middle School Student Council did a food drive among the students.  This past Monday while the volunteers were waiting for a delivery from Feeding Westchester two vans pulled up and the students dropped off bag after bag of food, gathered by the students from their families and elsewhere.  Special thanks to Bianca Ozdoba, President of the Council, for carrying this out.  Those donations will carry us for quite some time.
          In addition to their gift cards, the clients went home with food from Feeding Westchester, the Pantry and the Fable Farm CSA; prepared food from the On The Line consortium of restaurants, soup and bread from MadeByRK, and another bag of food from the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills.  The Stone Barns restaurant, Blue Hill, will be opening and they’ll need their resources for the restaurant.  The staff members who brought the food, though, said that Stone Barns is committed to continue helping pantries and soup kitchens who are helping many more people than previously.  They’ll get food to us as often as they can.  Our clients have definitely been well-served by caterers and restaurants in the community.  A virtual hug to them all!
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June 21, 2020

Good morning, everybody – This past Wednesday the pantry served slightly fewer people than in the last two weeks.  I hope this means that people are being called back to work.  Maybe some of these people will now donate to the pantry.  On Wednesday the volunteers served 119 families (last week 121 and the week before 129), consisting of 254 adults, 162 children and 32 seniors.  A total of 448 people were served.

          I must boast about Ogden Place – the block where I live in Dobbs Ferry.  We did a food drive for the pantry, and ended up with 17 bags and 2 boxes full of food, plus 2 boxes of diapers!  All from one short street!  One of our neighbors – Krisanne Bayer – is adept at organizing activities, and she’s loved by everyone, so all she had to do was send a text around and everybody gathered food for us.  I have a feeling that other blocks in Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Irvington or Greenburgh might have the same spirit.
          And on Friday, when we brought the food to the pantry, we also received another entire collection of food from a combination of the Dobbs Ferry Lutheran Church and the Dobbs Ferry Christian Preschool, which is located at DFLC.  The congregation has cared for us for years, and this time it was augmented by the parents of the children who were graduating from the Preschool.  The parents did a drive-by that day, and Director Barbara Mertens asked them to bring something for the pantry at the same time.  Thanks to everybody at DFLC, and to the Preschool parents also.  And special thanks to Director Barbara Mertens!
          For the last few months we’ve only been open on Wednesday mornings because hardly any clients were coming to the evening pantry on the last Wednesday of the month.  But now that people are back to work, we’ll be open again this coming Wednesday evening, June 24, from 5:30 to 7:00 in addition to the morning pantry.
          Today was the first day of the CSA!  We’ll be getting fresh, organic produce from Fable Farm in Ossining for the rest of the summer and fall!  And as luck would have it, volunteer Marc Taiano, who is the soul and body of the pantry as well as the Roots & Wings kitchen garden, will be at Fable every Tuesday and will bring us our two shares (together with whatever else farmer Tom Deacon can donate) right to the pantry on Tuesday evening, to be given out the following day.
          Speaking of the kitchen garden, on Wednesday the gardeners provided more tomato plants for the clients to take home to grow their own tomatoes.  Again, it was Marc who brought these from the garden to the pantry.
          On Wednesday, in addition to their provisions from the pantry, clients took home prepared food from Harpers/OnTheLine and soup and bread from MadeByRK.  Then a van arrived from the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY.  Their restaurant, Blue Hill, is not open now, but they’re sending food and produce from the farm to pantries and soup kitchens.  And this past week the pantry was the recipient of their kindness.  Everyone took home an extra box of food, and the staff have promised that they’ll be back from time to time with more delicious food from their farm.
          The pantry’s cup runneth over.  But there’s always a need for more.  Deepest thanks to everyone who has either sent us food or made a monetary donation on our website.  We’re continuing to meet the needs of the people in our area because of the generosity of the residents of the Rivertowns.  This is a wonderful place to live.
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June 11, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – yesterday the volunteers served fewer families than last week.  Maybe we’re finally plateauing!  This week the volunteers served 121 families (compared to 129 last week), including 255 adults, 168 children and 35 seniors, for a total of 458 people (471 last week).  Let’s hope that maybe some people have been called back to work.  My hope is that once they go back to work, the people we served will then turn around and make a donation to the pantry to keep things going.

          The husband of one of our clients was called back to work at a restaurant, and he sent several pizzas to the volunteers as a thank-you.  We’re not sure which restaurant it was, but the pizza was delicious.
          Both Ellen Klein and I were at the pantry yesterday for the first time in months.  It’s become a completely different operation due to serving so many people and not having access to the church.  It was so efficiently run that I was amazed.  I was like a stranger in a strange land.
          Team Rubicon and the COVID-19 Emergency Food Assistance Program are offering a $500 one-time grant for food and delivery of food to people with certain medical diagnoses.  It turns out that several of the pantry’s clients have one of those diagnoses, and we’ve been able to either provide the information so that they themselves can apply or, as I did this afternoon, help them to complete and submit the application.  There’s no deadline, but the information says they’ll keep doing it until they run out of money.  It seems Bristol-Myers-Squibb gave them a large donation to use to help people with these diagnoses during the pandemic.
          The Roots & Wings kitchen garden behind the church is making progress.  The gardeners gather regularly to work on their own plots and on the plot designated for the Pantry.  Yesterday Marc brought ten little tomato plants to offer to the clients, and all ten were eagerly accepted.  There may be more tomato plants next week, and more clients will be able to take them home and begin to grow their own tomatoes!
          This coming Wednesday we’ll have another partner for our clients in addition to the prepared food from Harpers/Meritage/OnTheLine and soup and bread from MadeBy RK.  Stone Barns will be sending several boxes of food, including produce, for our clients.  Stone Barns has been providing food since the beginning of the pandemic to hospitals, clinics and other first responders.  Happily, some of the providers no longer need the food, and Stone Barns is beginning to reach out to food pantries and soup kitchens.  Our pantry will be happy to partake of their generosity.
          Yesterday for the first time the pantry served clients from two separate lines.  One line was specifically for seniors or disabled clients, and it started at 9:30.  Although it was a new effort, it went very smoothly, and nobody minded that the seniors got to go first.  We’ve got a good group of clients, and a good, very hard-working group of volunteers!
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June 7, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – last Wednesday the Pantry set another record – 129 families served, including 259 adults, 177 children and 36 seniors, bringing us to 471 people served in a two-hour period.  129 families is a 268.6% increase from the numbers we used to serve.  We have several families to whom we deliver food also, because they’re immunocompromised, disabled, or for some other reason.  Wednesdays are busy days.  And we wrap it all up by having a Zoom meeting in the afternoon to figure how to manage in the coming weeks.

          One thing we’re concerned about is the fact that the breakfast-and-lunch program, which has been providing free meals to all Dobbs Ferry students and their families, will stop as of June 26.  We were hoping the program could continue through the summer, but it will have to stop when the school year ends.  And there will be no camp this summer either.  So, things will be harder for our pantry clients.  Let’s hope that some people can get back to work once Phase 2 starts this week.
          Thanks to volunteer Duke Coffey for concocting a bleach solution to use on all the tables that are used for assembling the bags and boxes of food we give out.  By the time the volunteers leave the church on Wednesday at noon the pantry is squeaky clean.  This is in addition to all the sanitary wipes, sprays, gloves and masks we’ve always been using.
          A special shout-out to community members who have provided our clients with diapers and baby wipes, including Dr. Nitin Gupta of Rivertowns Pediatrics and Spring Community Partners volunteer Suzy Barnett.  Today she left a pile of diapers and wipes at my house, which we’ll start giving out this coming Wednesday.  And she had to wait on a long line at Costco to do this.
          And another shout-out to Ron DiRusso and Matt Kay at Hudson Social in Dobbs Ferry for lending the pantry some refrigerator space for extra milk we had received from Fable Farm.  They were life savers!
          We heard from the Ardsley Middle School Student Council!  They’re going to do a food collection for us and we’ve asked them to drop it off on a Monday, when the volunteers are gathered for a Feeding Westchester delivery.  And I’m going to try to do a food drive on my block, too.  If anybody wants to do a block or neighborhood food drive for us we need these foods:
canned green vegetables
canned fruit
canned tomatoes
pasta sauce (in a plastic jar if possible so it doesn’t break in the bag)
individual juice packets or boxes
unsweetened cereal
canned hearty soups
individual raisin packets
shelf-stable milk
peanut butter
size 6 diapers.
          This past Wednesday the clients went home with a box of food, a gift card, prepared food from Hudson Social/On The Line, bread and soup from MadeByRK, and beautiful produce from Fable Farm.  With help from us around food and diapers, hopefully the clients can use what income they have to come up with rent payments, etc. until this pandemic comes to an end.


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A small portion of the food boxes lovingly packed by pantry volunteers to be given to hungry clients tomorrow

photo of pantry food boxes

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June 1, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – This past Wednesday the volunteers served another record number of clients – 124 families, including 245 adults, 176 children and 36 seniors, for a total of 457 people served.  In the month of May we averaged 117 families and 438 people per week.  Back in January we were averaging 42 families and 153 people per week.  That’s a huge increase, and we continue to give gift cards to every local family along with prepackaged food.  The gift card gives them a chance to go to Stop & Shop and choose whatever food they want after seeing what’s in the prepackaged bag or box.  That’s the only way we can stick to our goal of allowing clients to have some choice over what food they want.  We’ll keep it up as long as we can.

          I got an email from a woman who wants to have a distance block party and ask every family to bring food for the pantry.  That’s a wonderful idea.  Every week we receive food from Feeding Westchester, but then we add to the bag or box of food from our pantry that we know our clients will need.  So, we need food as well as monetary donations.  If anybody is thinking of donating food to us, here is a list of what we need this week:
                                  Canned green vegetables
                                  Canned fruit
                                  Canned tomatoes
                                  Pasta sauce
                                  Individual juice packs
                                  Size 6 diapers
          There’s also a Dobbs Ferry teen who plans to do a fundraiser for the pantry as part of what’s required for an IB diploma.  What a great thing!  It helps him and it helps us.  Not sure what fundraiser he has in mind, but everything helps.
          This week, in addition to their food and gift card, clients went home with prepared food from Harper’s/On The Line and soup and bread from MadeByRK.  Thanks so much for these donors.  They go to a lot of work so that our clients can be well-fed.
          Hope everybody can get outside and enjoy this summer-y weather.  The virus hates fresh air and sun.
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May 21, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – yesterday the number of clients served by the pantry climbed even higher.  Yesterday 119 families were served, as opposed to last week, when it was 114 and the week before when it was 109.  In the old days we used to serve 35-40 families a week.  Those 119 families consisted of 243 adults, 173 children and 37 seniors for a total of 453 people served.  Every week new people arrive, most of whom live in our area and may be with us for the long term.  Even if they go back to work, they may visit us at the evening pantry on the last Wednesday of the month.  We’ve temporarily suspended the evening pantry because most people are coming during the day now, but we’ll start it up again as soon as it’s needed.

          I must share something that warmed my heart.  A woman walked by South Church yesterday morning, saw the volunteers serving the clients and was so touched by it that she went straight home and made a PayPal donation on our website.  She just wanted to help!  Thanks to everybody who’s donating to us so that we can continue to help people whose backs are against the wall right now.
          One of the volunteers yesterday was Liz Dreaper, Dobbs Ferry Village Clerk.  She handed out bread to the clients while providing guidance and answering questions anybody had about the 2020 Census (whose deadline has been extended into October, by the way).  She was a great help and an important source of information, too.  Thank you, Liz!  Since the deadline has been extended, maybe Liz can visit a time or two over the summer in case somebody needs information.  She was very encouraging, and she’s the type of person who plunges in, so she’ll be helping to feed  the clients at the same time.
          Yesterday, in addition to a Stop & Shop gift card, the clients took home a bag or box of shelf-stable food from Feeding Westchester plus fresh produce, also provided by Feeding Westchester.  They also received bread and yogurt from two anonymous donors, prepared meals from Harper’s/On The Line and soup and bread from MadeByRK.  Next week a farmer will be donating some bok choy to the Roots & Wings kitchen garden behind the church, and Marc Taiano says some of the bok choy will be shared with the Pantry.  Soon we’ll be receiving herbs and vegetables from the kitchen garden again, plus the CSA starts June 21.  So, our clients will have plenty of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables over the summer.  If we keep seeing so many families we may have to purchase additional produce, but we’re determined to make sure everybody gets some fresh produce in addition to their shelf-stable foods.
          A shout-out to Town Supervisor Paul Feiner for publishing updated information about our Pantry and our need for donations, both edible and monetary.  Thank you, Paul!


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May 14, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – the number of people coming for food to the pantry keeps increasing from week to week.  Yesterday we served 114 families.  Last week it was 109 and the week before it was 106.  Those 114 families consisted of 218 adults, 164 children and 36 seniors, for a total of 148 people served.

          The clients are being helped not only by the gift cards and food we give them from the pantry, but also by prepared meals sent by Harper’s Restaurant/On The Line; by soup and bread brought by MadeByRK; by masks brought by MaryJane Shimsky from a partnership between the County and Hanes; by more masks and hand sanitizer from the Village of Dobbs Ferry; by food from Fable Farm; and by food generously bought and delivered from the Hough family, the Conway family, Meg Lindsay, a group led by Rabbi Young at Woodlands Community Temple, and the Hinksmon family, who also helped to pack boxes.  We are grateful to people in the community who can provide food for our clients, some of whom never thought they’d need a food pantry.
          Next week there will be an exciting Zoom meeting sponsored by Roots & Wings, South Church’s sustainable living initiative, which will focus on food insecurity and ways groups in the community can partner together to help.  Robin and I will be at the meeting, as will the Roots & Wings crew, community gardeners (they’re already at work in the garden behind the church), and people from the Village Sustainability Task Force.  Maybe others, too.  Check with Roots & Wings if you want to know more about the meeting, but it sounds like another opportunity for the pantry to partner with the many helpful groups in the Rivertowns.  There is a cooperative spirit around here that is amazing to see – and it’s growing!
          Our thanks to the Hudson River Presbytery for giving us a much-needed grant.  We were on a Zoom meeting with the Presbytery this past Monday, and it’s mind-boggling how huge the Hudson River Presbytery is.  It covers several different counties, and most of the food pantries covered by the Presbytery were on that call.  It’s sad that there are so many hungry people in the Hudson Valley that all these pantries are seeing more and more people.  And the Presbytery plans to help them all.
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May 7, 2020

The Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry continues to march along, each week receiving more clients.  Yesterday we served 109 families (last week it was 106)  with 227 adults, 168 children and 35 seniors, totaling 425 people served.  Of the nine new families registered, six were from out of the area.  They were served (we never send anybody away empty-handed) and referred to pantries in their area.  The other three families are from around here and may continue with us in the future.

          Once again, in addition to their food and gift cards, the clients took home prepared food from Harpers/On the Line; soup and bread from MadeByRK; produce, bagels, cookies, milk and cheese donated by Fable Farm (which will be our weekly CSA in the summer); and yogurt provided by a generous donor.
          They’ve extended the deadline for filling out the census form, and the Pantry will be working with the Village of Dobbs Ferry Sustainability Task Force to encourage people who come to the Pantry to fill the form out.
          Feeding Westchester, the organization which provides low-cost food and other assistance to pantries and soup kitchens throughout Westchester (nationally it’s Feeding America) has a Zoom meeting every Thursday.  Today I participated and learned that during the month of April they provided 2,000,000 pounds of food to pantries, including us.  Ellen Klein, from our pantry, orders shelf-stable food and produce from them on a regular basis, and so do many other pantries in the County.  A new idea they have is to offer virtual nutrition classes for clients over Facebook Live, during which a recipe is made and discussed.  If they go through with it, we’ll see if any of our clients are interested in learning more about nutrition.
          We’ve received many donations from individuals in the community by way of the PayPal feature on our website (www.dobbsferrypantry.org).  We continue to rely on these donations as we continue serving more and more needy families in our area.  Hopefully it will come to an end at some point, and we can return to our client-choice pantry the way we have for years.  Until then, though, thanks and thanks again to all the people (many on this list) who are helping us help those families.
Happy Mothers’ Day, everybody!


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