Good afternoon, everybody – This past Wednesday we served 133 families, including 271 adults, 156 children and 45 seniors, bringing us to 472 people served. Our delivery people reached another record – 47 deliveries made to families in Dobbs Ferry, Irvington and elsewhere.
We were visited by Ken Stahn of Ardsley United Methodist again this past Monday, with his car jammed with donations from their food drive, together with $20 and $25 Stop & Shop gift cards and a check from a former Ardsley Methodist member who now lives in South Carolina. The pantry’s reach is far and wide. Their next food drive for us will be on Saturday, March 20, organized by the Ardsley cubs and scouts for Easter. Put that date on your calendar and drop something off that day between 11:00 and 1:00.
Speaking of Stop & Shop gift cards, it’s a big help if people donate these cards to us because we’ve been offering gift cards to our clients as a way to ensure some modicum of client choice. For the last few months we’ve been giving them out twice a month instead of once, but it costs a lot of money due to the large number of families we serve. We give multiples of $20 gift cards, depending on the size of the family. If anybody on this list decides to donate some gift cards, we’d appreciate it if they could be $20 Stop & Shop gift cards, since those are what we’ve been giving out. Thanks in advance!
The big news is that, due to the efforts of Feeding Westchester and others, food pantry workers now qualify for COVID vaccines! They’re constantly dealing with the public, so it makes sense. A group of our volunteers were vaccinated this past Tuesday at Westchester Community College (and they showed up with sore arms to the pantry the next day), and another group is receiving their vaccines today. Volunteer Kim J. is providing us with “I’ve been vaccinated” stickers to wear to encourage people who are still leery about receiving the vaccine.
And as if that wasn’t enough, we were contacted by the Village of Dobbs Ferry, offering vaccines to any pantry clients who are 65 or older, to take place this Saturday at the new Embassy Center. We’ve been working all week to contact all of our clients who are that age or who have someone in their families that age, and we’ve got quite a few signed up. This is a tremendous effort on the part of the Village, together with Rite Aid, and it will make a huge difference to our clients, and everybody else in Dobbs Ferry.
The Village of Dobbs Ferry has created a police-reform task force, similar to what other villages are doing, and they held a public zoom meeting on Thursday, February 25. The Village had sent us questionnaires in Spanish and English to give out to the clients who live in Dobbs, to assess their relationships with the local police. The questionnaires were anonymous and confidential, and the clients were instructed to deliver the filled-out questionnaires to Village Hall. Several of us from the pantry were at the meeting to report experiences some of our clients have shared with us, including some negative incidents. This will all be grist for the mill for the task force, and my hat is off to the Village residents and police who have taken on this task. I’m glad the pantry could help in gathering information.
One last comment involves the fact that, due to the reality that South Church has been closed for the last year, and the pantry is serving so many people, the clients have no client choice like they used to (except for the gift cards). Every Wednesday everybody receives the same pre-packed box of shelf-stable food and a bag of fresh produce. And every Thursday morning an entire box of pre-packed food is then anonymously dropped off at the Midnight Run at 97 Main Street in Dobbs Ferry. Obviously, the person doesn’t want what’s in the box but takes it anyway. Dale Williams, Manager of the Midnight Run, ends up returning the box to us, since it’s not the kind of food that’s good for people living on the streets. This is what happens when people can’t choose what they want. We’re thinking of setting up a bin on Wednesdays and asking people to put what they don’t want in the bin instead of leaving it for somebody else to deal with (or dumping it at the curb, which we’ve also found). Anybody have any other ideas for how to deal with this problem?