July 7, 2021
“I’m back in the line again,” says a pantry client after standing in line for a bag of produce and a box of packaged food, then moving on to the breakfast table where she picks up cereal and milk, giving us a moment to catch up. She recently lost her job and returned to the pantry for help, but she wished she didn’t have to be here.
The following week a client waits in line wearing a T-shirt that says, “I CAN WIN!” As I hand her a box of Cheerios, I see that her eyes tell a different story, one that doubts whether she really can win at a time when roughly 40 million Americans are officially below the poverty line while millions of people with income above that line struggle to pay for housing, food, and other essentials.
The pantry opens at 10 a.m., but the line of people needing food starts forming around 9 a.m. Volunteers hustle to display food, pack dairy products on ice, and more.
More than Just Numbers
Every week our pantry typically helps up to 150 families—around 600 people.
“If you talk about the suburbs on the whole, without distinguishing the various types of suburbs, suburban poverty is quite prevalent,” says Patrick Cooney, assistant director of policy impact at the University of Michigan’s Poverty Solutions.
Cooney points out that a researcher at the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, found that in suburbs that are single-family neighborhoods (where more than 90 percent of the homes in a neighborhood are single-family) the poverty rate is 6 percent. Surprising, perhaps, yet that’s less than half the poverty rate for the country as a whole.
“In more affluent areas, it’s likely far less,” says Cooney. “This is largely a result of exclusionary zoning laws, which prevent different housing types from being built in affluent areas.”
Want to Help?
Our pantry relies on donations of money and food to help our neighbors. Temple Beth Shalom in Hastings regularly supports the pantry and this week they donated avocados for all of our families; Panera Bread on Central Avenue in Scarsdale now donates bread and sweet rolls. Our clients were thrilled to receive this food.
Diapers are expensive, which is why some of our clients desperately need them for their children (especially size 4, 5 and 6). This week, Woodlands Community Temple’s Natalie Werner delivered pull-ups, and Nat Graham also donated diapers. Many thanks!
If you’d like to help, leave donations of food (no glass containers, please) and diapers in the bin outside the church doors, and for larger donations contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our wish list includes canned tuna, crunchy peanut butter, rice, and low-sugar cereals such as Cheerios, Honey Nut Cheerios, corn flakes, Special K, and oatmeal.
Plain, Pumpernickel, or Poppy? The Shop in Ardsley now donates bagels to the pantry on a regular basis. Our clients thank you.
Kimberly Janeway, a pantry volunteer, wrote this week’s newsletter and provided the photos.