September 29, 2021

To help feed our neighbors—this week we provided food to
467 people, including our monthly evening hours—we rely on donations of food and money,
volunteers devoted to helping others, and the support of
Feeding Westchester.

This food bank sources and distributes food and other
resources to 225 food pantries, soup kitchens, schools,
shelters, residential programs, and mobile food distributions in
the county. Feeding Westchester is a member of Feeding
America
,
a nonprofit network of 200 food banks in the U.S. and
the largest domestic hunger-relief organization.

Karen Erren is president and CEO of Feeding Westchester. To
find out more about the people facing hunger in our county, we
interviewed Karen by email. Her answers have been edited for
brevity.

Q. How many people need food from Feeding Westchester
and its community partners?
Prior to COVID-19 our network
of community partners and programs served 125,000 to
150,000 people a month. During the height of the pandemic,
however, that number more than doubled. Currently, we are
still serving nearly 225,000 neighbors each month on average.

Q. Those numbers are surprising. What’s going on? One
thing I’ve learned being a food banker for more than 15 years
is that our neighbors who are hungry are just like you, me, any
of us. They are hard working, they are parents, seniors who
worked their whole lives, and they simply may not have the
family network or safety net that so many of us have.
And the cost of living in Westchester is high, well above
the national average. We see individuals and families with
income levels of $15,000 a year, $30,000 a year—significantly
below the county’s median household income of just over $96,000. Those
incomes are impossible to live on, let alone thrive on.

Q. How do Feeding Westchester programs address people
of all ages?
While our primary goal is to get nutritious food to
anyone who needs it, we do create and adapt our feeding
programs for various groups. Nearly 1 in 6 children in
Westchester face hunger.
With our community partners, meal
programs, and direct distributions, we ensure that kids are
able to get the nutritious food they need through our child-
feeding programs: breakfast and lunch bags, school pantries,
school distributions, or direct deliveries.
Our senior grocery program encourages better health and
promotes independent living for our seniors and neighbors
with disabilities, providing nutritious food directly to them
where they live. These are just a few of the many ways we
work collaboratively to ensure that all of our neighbors have
food in a way that is accessible for them.

Q. Will there ever be a time when food pantries are no
longer needed in Westchester, and what does it take to get
us there?
I hope there is a time where our services are less
needed, or frankly not at all, but there is still much work to be
done. While getting as much food on as many tables as
possible, for any of our neighbors who need it, is still our
primary goal, we are asking how we can do that better. What
gaps exist? How can we provide more culturally relevant food
to our diverse populations? How can we collaborate with more
local anti-poverty organizations to ensure that our neighbors
in need have access to the help they need? For now, we remain
where we have been for the last 33 years—at the forefront of
hunger relief for Westchester.

A Million Thanks!

The Scarsdale Woman’s Club, with members from over two-
dozen communities in Westchester and Rockland counties, has
long supported our pantry by regularly hosting food drives.

These ninth graders, members of Girl Scout troop 1688 in
Dobbs Ferry, held a food drive for the Pantry at Stop & Shop,
collecting a carload of food and diapers.

Thanks also to Mom’s Organic Market, New York
Bagel Authority
, Panera Bread, and The Shop in
Ardsley
for their ongoing support. Our clients appreciate
your donations.

This week’s newsletter written by the Pantry’s very own Lois Lane, Kimberly Janeway.

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