June 1, 2021

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
   “To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
   Of cabbages—and kings …”

“The Walrus and the Carpenter”

By Lewis Carol

But let’s begin instead with a tale of Beans and Bagels.

The food we distribute to our clients comes to our doors in two flavors: Fixed Inventory, things in boxes or sacks that we obtain from Feeding Westchester and other suppliers; and Variable Inventory, donations dropped off by caring individuals, thoughtful families, and community organizations and retail groceries that run food drives for the Pantry’s benefit.  

Fixed Inventory is carefully managed by our Inventory Team of Ellen Klein, and Suzanna and Roma Halatyn. The Variable Inventory, managed by Pantry veteran Eileen Quinlan, is unpredictable.  We are grateful for all that we receive and have a new system for ensuring its efficient distribution to our clients.

But once in a great while the unexpected crops up with the “Fixed” inventory. 

Because of the Memorial Day weekend, Ellen, Suze and Roma went to Feeding Westchester HQ to pick up the contents of the dry food pallet on offer Tuesday morning.  When they realized we had an excess of canned black beans, Roma reached out to Youth Mission of Life Food Pantry in White Plains, where Stella and her son PJ accepted our extra cases.

They kindly offered their excess bagels (130!) in exchange and thanks to Roma’s food network connections the community barter system benefited everyone! 

* * *

Tuesday Boxing Comes to Fellowship Hall!

Anyone buying lots of canned food knows by experience not to put too much of it in a paper bag.

To provide clients with a week’s worth of shelf-stable food begins with a box: strong, right-sized and complete with a handle.  Among the invaluable life skills Pantry volunteers acquire is how to properly assemble, tape and stack boxes clients can get home without the bottom falling out.  

Ellen Klein leads Tuesday Night box bandits Susan Ginsberg, Barry Siegel and Donna Assumma in box assembly.  Others fill the boxes while still others close, affix handles and move the boxes.  
Volunteers Bijal Das, Kristy Fitzgerald and Donna Assumma (L-R) cover the arc of nutrition with a mix of frozen meat from Feeding Westchester and organic dairy products from Mom’s Organic Grocery.

*   *   *

My name (in this state anyway) is Duke Coffey.  I’m the guy with the tool box and the mop.  I want to close this blog posting by describing the incredible bench strength we have within the Food Pantry by citing two people who exemplify why our motto is “Get It Done.”

The Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry has operated under the roof of South Presbyterian Church for 10 years, and we have always been grateful for their hospitality and support.  When the Covid-19 Pandemic ignited in New York last year, live attendance at religious services were canceled, and our operations were moved from Fellowship Hall into the Church’s Sanctuary and Music Room.  

While our lines are still long, things appear to be getting better and services at churches, synagogues and mosques are opening with masks and distancing.  South Presbyterian is still – first and foremost – a house of worship.  This Sunday, June 6, services were scheduled to resume for the first time in over a year.  

Knowing this day would come, we began planning our exit.  I was asked to find a way to stuff 15 pounds into a 5-pound bag and move all our inventory and equipment into the Music Room. Being on the wrong side of 72, I asked specifically for and got the assistance of two ingenious volunteers – Suzanna Halatyn, who is in charge of Inventory, and Suzy Barnett, of co-head of FP’s Delivery operation.  The two possess an uncanny ability not only for finding practical solutions to difficult problems but have the drive to make them happen.  All I needed to do was get them the equipment they needed and then stay out of their way.

Inventory Chief Suze Halatyn (L) and Suzy Barnett, co-chief of FP Deliveries; both possessed of the requisite brains and brawn behind FP’s exit from the Sanctuary in time for the resumption of religious services on 6 June 2021.

Another extraordinary member of the team that keeps the Food Pantry going no matter what the obstacles is Sharon Bilman (left, below), who also exemplifies the “Get It Done” spirit of our corps of volunteers.  There is not a thing Sharon can’t handle.

Sharon kindly set up a table of free books for our clients to take this week.

Items most needed this week: Size 4 and size 6 diapers (we had to purchase diapers for the first time this week!) and baby wipes; women’s sanitary napkins (pads); adult diapers.

This week’s newsletter was written by the guy who can fix anything, Duke Coffey.

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