March 2023

Well, we almost got through winter without a significant snowfall. Even though 4 inches is not all that much by Rivertown standards, it was enough to close the schools on Wednesday, March 1, but not enough to close the food pantry. That would take a blizzard.

And now for some bad news: additional food assistance benefits, which reduced hunger and allowed some 40 million Americans to eat healthy (and more expensive) foods during the pandemic, have now ended while food prices continue to soar. That means our neighbors in need are finding it even harder to put food on their tables. We expect that the number of people coming to the pantry will be going up again.

According to a report on NPR, “On average, individuals will get about $90 less this month in benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP. Some households will see a cut of $250 a month or more, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan research institute.”

Dottie Rosenbaum, director of federal SNAP policy for the institute, told NPR,
“This is a change that will increase hardship for many individuals and families, especially given the modest amount of regular SNAP benefits, which are only about $6 per person per day, on average.”

Springhurst students learn to shop and share at Stop & Shop
The fourth grade students celebrated Random Acts of Kindness Week by composing a shopping list of food and household goods to donate to the pantry. Each student gave $1 to $5, and their teachers used the project to apply basic math to maximize the budget. Using the sales flyer from Stop & Shop, a supporter of the pantry, students worked in groups and carefully selected items, focusing on best value, while teachers and parent volunteers supervised. The result? Two carloads of donations were delivered in a week when the pantry really needed all the inventory we could get our hands on. So, thank you, Springhurst fourth graders, from the bottom of our hearts.

Teachers Patti Giuliano and Karen LaPorte dropped off donations from the generous fourth graders at Springhurst Elementary School.

Four was our lucky number recently. In another example of children helping Dobbs Ferry’s neighbors in need, Community Nursery School (CNS), at South Presbyterian Church, used its annual winter party for four-year-olds and their parents to collect two cartloads of food and household products. The pantry has been fortunate to have children of all ages in the Rivertowns help us in so many thoughtful and imaginative ways.

Thank you to the rest of the cavalry that came through last month when inventory was way down, including United Ardsley Methodist Church, Temple Beth Shalom and Zion Episcopal Church (where the Hilltop Thrift Shop is finally open again!).

And thanks to all our individual donors and other organizations who continue to generously provide the goods and the funds to keep us going. We know the end of supplemental SNAP support for many families means tougher times ahead. With supporters like you behind us, we’ll continue to help them.

We’ve come to know Margery Rossi, above at left, since she was chosen pastor of South Presbyterian Church, and she is a clear-minded leader, a graceful friend and never one to lose sight of her purpose. So on Ash Wednesday, February 22, Margery asked if she could set up a table at the end of our pantry offerings and distribute ashes to anyone who wished to mark the day in the Christian calendar that begins the Lenten Easter season. Clients who received ashes were appreciative.

“Returning” art exhibit to benefit pantry
Carol Perron Sommerfield, a Rivertown representational painter, will be the featured solo artist at the Howard and Ruth Jacobs Gallery from March 18 through April 29. All proceeds from sales at the gallery and online will benefit nine local organizations that focus on food insecurity, affordable housing or land conservation and restoration. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, March 25, from 2 to 4:00 p.m. at the gallery, which is located at the Greenburgh Library in Elmsford and open daily. More information about the exhibit, as well as images of the paintings, can be found here.

Duke Coffey, a devoted pantry volunteer, can repair just about anything at the pantry and he tells a great story, too.

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