Good afternoon, everybody – Hopefully we’ve plateaued, although at a pretty high level. This past Wednesday we served a total of 118 families (last week it was 124, and the week before that it was 129). This included 241 adults, 163 children and 36 seniors. We served 440 people (last week it was 453 and the week before 479).
It takes a village to run a food pantry. Last week we had so much lettuce that we couldn’t fit it into our two refrigerators. Robin, Ellen C. and Anilla first approached Hudson Social down at the train station because they’ve helped us before, but they had no refrigerator space. The next stop was to call Abby Connett, the Director of the Dobbs Ferry Seniors. She moved heaven and earth for us to be able to store the extra lettuce in the refrigerator space in the basement of Village Hall. This space is usually used by the firemen, and has been used by the Seniors while waiting for the Embassy Club to be finished. Thanks to Abby and the Village, we were able to give fresh lettuce to every one of those 118 families. Not every pantry in Westchester is so lovingly supported by its village.
We’ve been worried about our clients’ nutrition now that they aren’t receiving the free breakfasts and lunches from the school district over the summer; however, Feeding Westchester sent us a flyer from an organization by the name of HungerSolutionsNY.org, which seems to be a consortium of New York State, the FDA, Walmart, and an organization called Share Our Strength. They’ll be applying a one- or two-time payment to an EBT card for every family whose children qualify for a free or reduced-fee lunch, including children who attend schools where all the students get a free meal. We’ll have a pile of flyers in English and Spanish on the sign-in table this Wednesday for people to take home and read.
This coming Monday I’ll be picking up 1,000 masks, made available free of charge to local businesses and nonprofits by State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. It takes a state legislature to run a pantry.
I’ll also be picking up more Stop & Shop gift cards for our clients. We’re hoping to keep making these cards available for a few more weeks, until people go back to work and the children get started (somehow) in school. The monetary donations from people on this list and others have made it possible for our clients, in addition to the pre-packaged food and produce from us, to have a chance to choose what foods they want from Stop & Shop. This week again clients went home with prepared meals from Harpers/OnTheLine and homemade soup and bread from MadeByRK. Harpers and Renee Kashuba (MadeByRK) have been faithful providers for our hungry clients.
I don’t know what the pantry would have done if SPRING Community Partners hadn’t stepped in. I think we might have had to close. The consistent, loving attention from Co-Directors Robin Larkins and Ellen Crane, and all the help from the parents and members of SPRING (I didn’t realize what a huge and successfully-run organization it is) made it possible for us to serve four times as many clients every single week. And they’ll be there again this Wednesday, even though they have lives of their own! It’s mind-boggling! Someday someone will have to make a documentary about what it was like for a pantry to suddenly explode in size, look around, and see so many people rushing to the rescue. It brings a tear to the eye.