February 21, 2018

Good afternoon, everyone – Today we served a total of 18 families, including 20 adults, 20 children and 5 seniors.

Our beloved Barbara Mahoney has told us that the children of the Church of St. Barnabas in Irvington wants to provide us with decorated bags with goodies for Easter like they did last year.  We lined the bags up on the steps leading to the altar last year, and the mothers could take one bag for each of their children.  It made the Wednesday before Easter a very happy event.  Plus we’ll be giving out gift cards for the holidays as well.
Today we were visited again by Giuliana Urrelo from the Westchester Hispanic Coalition.  She always brings important information about the services they offer (help with domestic violence, sexual abuse, housing, employment), and all of their services are free!  She’s helped our clients in the past, and she vows to keep coming every month or so to meet new clients and offer whatever information or advice people need.
Brooklyn Market at Rivertowns Square is open!  And since Rivertowns Square is in Dobbs Ferry, I’m hoping we’ll be able to do food drives there in addition to Stop & Shop, and I’m planning to ask them if we can put a permanent bin there with a sign for people to buy food for the pantry and leave it in the bin.  I’ve looked at Stop & Shop, but it seems crowded.  There’s a bin at Foodtown in Hastings for the Hastings Food Pantry, which gave me the idea.
We’re going to be streamlining our client registration system onto a laptop instead of manually signing the clients in every week.  Just about every other pantry in Westchester County does it this way, and the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry is coming on board.  We have a small committee of volunteers (my husband included) who have gone to meetings at the Food Bank for guidance on how best to do this, and it will be a big help to us when we submit our statistics to the Food Bank every month.

 

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February 15, 2018

Good evening, everybody – Yesterday we served a total of 21 families, including 37 adults, 31 children and 6 seniors.

This past Monday was the memorial service at Sacred Heart Church in Dobbs Ferry for Meg Lauer.  I missed the service, but Lyn and I got to the reception afterwards and it was packed with people who wanted to share their memories of Meg.  We got to meet her husband and two daughters.  The Lauers had been gone from Dobbs Ferry for several years, but Meg somehow managed to stay in touch with everybody, so having a memorial service in Dobbs Ferry was an opportunity for everybody to get together again to talk about the Lauers’ life here.  And the pantry has received many donations, from PayPal and by check, from people who wanted to honor the organizations she supported.
By the way, if anybody on this list wants to send us a check (which would be much appreciated), make sure you make the check out to South Presbyterian Church, and put “pantry” in the memo line.
This past Friday a group of us pantry volunteers got together at Lyn’s house for a potluck where we went over the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) manual.  Everybody who buys food from the Food Bank has to be familiar with this manual, which talks mostly about discrimination and how to report a complaint about our pantry to the USDA.  I can’t imagine it happening, but we’re all trained in how not to discriminate.  The only concern we came up with was what to do if someone comes to the pantry who speaks a language we don’t understand.  We still won’t discriminate.  We’ll try as hard as we can to help them and give them some food.
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February 7, 2018

Good afternoon, everyone – This morning, for only the second time since the pantry’s inception, we decided not to open the pantry.  We were worried that someone would slip and fall.

This past Saturday was a banner day for the food pantry.  The Dobbs Ferry High School football team did a food drive for us at Stop & Shop.  They’ve done this for us before, and it’s always a huge success.  It happened again this time.  The boys made several big deliveries of food to the church as the day wore on, and our volunteer Tom also brought tons of food in his car.  It’s all sitting upstairs in the office we use for storage, and we’ll start giving the food out next Wednesday.  Nobody can resist the charm of those boys.  Mothers Anilla Cherian and Patty Straub were there the whole day with the boys and came with them to deliver the food to the church.  Thanks so much to the entire team, and everybody who helped Anilla and Patty make this into such a success!
This Friday we volunteers will be gathering to go over the USDA Manual, which must be read by all volunteers who come into contact with our clients.  It talks mostly about the importance of not discriminating.  I’ve added language to our brochure and our website reflecting just that.  We would never discriminate against anybody, whether we’ve read the manual or not, but if we want to stay in the good graces of the Food Bank for Westchester, we’ll make sure we’ve all gone over it.
We’ve received many donations in memory of our beloved Meg Lauer.  There will be a funeral service for her here in Dobbs Ferry as well.  Anybody who wants to go can check her Caringbridge page for the details.  We volunteers from the Food Pantry will definitely attend.
Stay warm and cozy, everybody.  April, come she will.
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Dobbs Ferry High School football team ready for a food drive at Stop & Shop February 3 from 9:30 to 1:30! Thanks guys!

2-4-18 dfhs team food drive

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February 1, 2018

Good afternoon, everybody – yesterday in the morning we served a total of 26 families, including 39 adults, 35 children and 10 seniors.  Then in the evening we served another 16 families with 26 adults, 20 children and 2 more seniors.  This makes a total of 42 families yesterday, with 65 adults, 55 children and 12 seniors.  We averaged 27 families a week during the month of January.

This past Sunday I attended services at Dobbs Ferry Lutheran Church and met their new pastor, Rev. Marie Meeks.  We at the pantry are happy that DFLC has a pastor of its own now, and she’s a very caring person.  This coming Sunday the youth group will be having a Super Bowl Sunday event after church in which, among other things, they’ll be selling homemade chili.  The proceeds will be used to buy products for the pantry – how loving is that??  Thanks so much, DFLC.  We always rely on you.
We’ve been back in touch with Felipe Henao at Mercy College about getting together to discuss their plan to establish a food pantry at Mercy.  Lyn and I will be happy to help in any way we can, and we’ll be enhancing our relationship with Mercy.  We’ll help them and they’ll help us.  I’m sure there are many hungry students at Mercy, struggling to pay for their education.
Hopefully everybody on this list will save their grocery shopping for Stop & Shop in Dobbs Ferry this coming Saturday between 9:30 and 1:30.  That’s when the Dobbs Ferry High School football team will be doing a food drive for us.  They’ve done several for us in the last couple of years and they’re a huge success.  Who can resist the charm of those boys??  Come one, come all!

I’m sorry to end on this very sad note, but Dobbs Ferry has lost a wonderful friend in Meg Lauer.  She died last week, surrounded by loved ones.  She was a tremendous supporter of the food pantry, even after she moved away.  And before she died she asked that donations be made to the food pantry in her memory.  We’ve already started receiving contributions in her name.  Our deepest condolences go out to her husband, daughters, and all her friends who are grieving right now.
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Two beautifully-decorated boxes for the Springhurst food donation to the pantry. Thanks, kids!

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January 24, 2018

Hello, everyone – Today we served a total of 28 families, including 40 adults, 35 children and 8 seniors.

Today we were inspected by the Food Bank for Westchester.  They visit every pantry affiliated with them periodically to make sure we’re serving nutritious food and maintaining the pantry in clean condition.  I’m happy to say we passed with flying colors.  They’ll visit us again 18 months from now.
On Tuesday we received a huge donation of food from the second- and third-graders at Springhurst through their Kids Can program.  The delivery came at a good time, when we were running low on some of our more-popular foods.  They sent us a lot of tuna and a lot of hearty soups (all of which are gone by now, by the way).  Special kudos to Nola Kende Long and Sharon Van Engen for engineering this drive for us.  They’ll be doing it again for us in the spring.  A sincere thank-you to everyone at Springhurst for caring for us through the years.
Anilla Cherian and her fellow team parents are organizing a food drive for us at Stop & Shop for Saturday, February 3 – the day before the Super Bowl.  The team has done this for us in prior years and we end up with an amazing amount of food.  No one can resist the charm of the team players.  Be sure to visit Stop & Shop that day so you can contribute.
Another program at Springhurst that has helped us is the collecting of food that students at Springhurst leave untouched at lunch.  The cafeteria staff had been throwing it all out but they were bothered by getting rid of perfectly good food.  Now, custodian Jose Soto brings it over to us at the pantry on Tuesdays and Fridays and puts it into our refrigerator.  We get a lot of apples, yogurt, cheese sticks, energy bars, etc., and our clients are happy to take it.  Now I heard from Sara Sellitti, who’s on the garden and compost committee at Springhurst, that they’re planning on expanding the program to include food left behind by the students at the middle/high school as well.  So we’ll have even more lunch food to offer to our clients.  Nothing goes to waste.
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January 17, 2018

Good afternoon, everyone – yesterday, in spite of the snow, we served a total of 22 families, including 31 adults, 32 children and 7 seniors.

This afternoon we received a generous donation of fourteen bags of shelf-stable food from Ardsley United Methodist Church.  Ken Stahn is the one who organizes the collection of food at the church, and he’s the one who brings the food to us in the trunk of his car.  Thanks so much to AUMC and to Ken for your consistent attention to our pantry.  We receive donations from many churches and synagogues, but Ardsley Methodist, Dobbs Ferry Lutheran and Zion Episcopal are the churches who donate to us regularly and reliably.  Thanks to all of you.
Speaking of donations, this coming Tuesday we’ll be receiving the second of three collections of food from Springhurst School in Dobbs Ferry.  This month we’ll be receiving a donation from the second- and third-graders at the school.  The Springhurst Kids Can program is a long-running help for our pantry, and this year it’s being spearheaded by Nola Kende Long and her associates.  Springhurst also sends us unopened food which is not taken by the students during lunch every day.  Custodian Jose Soto drops the food off every Tuesday and Friday, and we find it waiting for us in the refrigerator.
This morning Benny and I met with a couple who operate a food pantry at the First Presbyterian Church in Yorktown.  They’ve developed a laptop database which they use to register and sign in the clients each time the pantry is open.  We’ve been doing it all by hand since we opened in 2013, but we were wondering if it could be done more easily if it were all computerized.  They’ve e-mailed us an overview of the program, and Benny will be discussing it with the subcommittee in charge of finding the most equitable way of providing food for our clients.  We’re in the process of re-interviewing our clients now to update our information in preparation for this change, so now would be a good time to put everything into a database, if we decide to go ahead with it.  The Yorktown pantry, by the way, has been in operation for 25 years.  The woman we talked to this morning has been running the program for 15 years.  After 4-1/2 years, we’re the new kids on the block.
This week I got an e-mail from Felipe Henao, Director of the Student Life program at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry.  He told me they would like to establish a food pantry at Mercy for their food-insecure students like the pantry at Mercy’s Bronx campus.  He wanted advice from us and he invited us to visit him at Mercy.  I told him that when Lyn returns from vacation I’ll let him know and we’ll set a time for both of us to drop over there and see what they have planned.  I also invited him to visit us one Wednesday morning to see how we operate.
In response to our USDA anti-discrimination training we’ve posted on our website and on our brochure that we are an equal-opportunity provider.  And we have a notification posted at the pantry with a USDA website listed, in case anybody ever wanted to lodge a complaint against us.
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January 11, 2018

Good afternoon, everybody – yesterday we served a total of 21 families, including 29 adults, 25 children and 9 seniors.

Two of our volunteers have already taken the training for the USDA civil rights requirement.  We’ll all be trained by February.  We’ve determined that a person in a wheelchair can easily participate in the pantry, and we have the USDA poster displayed which shows how a person could lodge a formal complaint against us with the USDA.  I doubt that will ever happen since we welcome everybody to the pantry.
One of our long-time volunteers and supporters had a bar mitzvah for her son.  The centerpiece on each table was a couple of cans of food, decoratively wrapped.  Her husband dropped off the food yesterday, which was immediately put on the shelf and given out.  What an innovative idea!  She had asked us ahead of time what products we’d like, so she sent us a lot of tuna and canned tomatoes – exactly what we needed immediately.  We’re eternally grateful to families who share their life events with us like this.
During the week I was contacted by a woman named Rebecca from the Cornell Cooperative Extension.  She told me that the Teamsters Union had had a food drive which yielded 2,000 pounds of food.  They donated it all to the Extension, and the food was delivered to pantries in Westchester County.  Rebecca herself brought 200 pounds of food to our pantry yesterday, which will be given out over the next few Wednesdays.  We’re appreciative of the fact that the Extension included us on their list of pantries.
I was also contacted by a woman who lives in Greenburgh who wondered how she could help.  I told her we need diapers and baby wipes because there are several clients of the pantry who have children in diapers.  She ordered a huge box of assorted sizes of diapers from Amazon, which was delivered to my house, together with another box of toiletries.  Yesterday when I got home from the pantry there was a huge carton of baby wipes – 27 packs to be exact.  What a generous, caring woman.  She has a baby herself, so she understands how valuable these diapers and wipes are to these struggling mothers.  And she plans on sending donations to us every other month or so on a regular basis.  Several mothers went home with diapers yesterday because of the generosity of this one woman.
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January 3, 2018

Good afternoon, everybody – yesterday we served a total of 21 families, including 31 adults, 25 children and 9 seniors.  Of those 21 families, 3 were families to whom we delivered food because they were elderly or disabled and couldn’t get to the pantry.  Tricia took food to a family in Ardsley and Benny and I delivered food to two families in Dobbs Ferry.  We’re glad to help.
In addition to our weekly bread donation from Stop & Shop and our weekly milk donation from Westchester Milk, we also get a donation of bagels every week from the New York Bagel Authority on Cedar Street in Dobbs Ferry, picked up by Ellen or one of the other volunteers.  Whatever bagels we don’t give out go either to the Days of Wonder Day Care program at South Church or to the Dobbs Ferry and Irvington Senior Citizens’ programs.  We deeply appreciate these regular donations and the volunteers who pick them up.
I attended an interesting Food Bank meeting on January 2 in Mohegan Park.  It seems that everyone who comes in contact with the clients of a food pantry or soup kitchen must take the USDA Civil Rights training each year.  I’m happy to say that, training or no, our pantry has never discriminated against anyone based on race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability.
To make our training a little easier, since everyone has to take the training, we’re scheduling a potluck during which we can eat and study the manual together so that we can all sign the log.  Then we have to keep the log available in case someone from the Food Bank or the USDA ever wants to see it.  And we’ll do this every year.
I hope everybody can stay inside today.  If you’re someone who likes to play in the snow, bundle up.
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