September 1, 2021

September One and despite rain, heavy at times, the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry served 98 families this week, representing 327 people including 38 deliveries. That’s 60 families who needed to stand in the rain for the shelf-stable food, fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, milk, cheese and cereal to put sufficient healthy food on the table.

Paradoxically, the previous week was our second highest turnout on record – so the need remains and is likely to remain for some time to come.

* * *

We turn again now to tip our collective hats to those supporters who continue to come through with donations of food and dollars time and again:

Diane and Ed Steinberg regularly leave donations of things we frequently are in most need of, e.g., tomato sauce.
Mom’s Organic, located at Newtown Square along the Saw Mill River Parkway, continues to supply us with the best in healthy dairy products on a regular basis.
Michelle Peluso regularly answers the bell when co-director Vera Halpenny sends up the flare for diapers and wipes.
And we’d like to thank Dobbs Ferry Historical Society anchors Larry and Peggie Blizard for a very generous donation to the Food Pantry on the last night of the Jazz Forum at Riverfront Park.

For those of you working for large companies, you might want to enquire whether your firm participates in matched funding for contributions you make to the Food Pantry.

* * *

Good news arrived from our good friends at Stop ‘n Shop: The Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry has been selected for the month of October 2021 to receive a $1 donation for every $10.99 “Bloomin’ 4 Good” Bouquet with the red circle sticker sold at our local store here on Broadway and Cedar.

* * *

Items most needed this week: canned vegetables and canned fruit

We have a bin for non-perishable donations to the left of the double church doors with the mail slot.

This week’s newsletter written by our very own MacGyver, Duke Coffey.

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August 25, 2020

Yesterday, despite the heat, we served a total of 173 families, 621 people, 59 of those were seniors. As it was the last Wednesday of the month, we were distributing food in the evening as well, a record 23 families showed up then.

We continue to grow in numbers and only hope our donations can keep pace with this expansion.  But all our volunteers are truly committed to making a difference to our neighbors in need. Our newest volunteer, Stephanie Wright, comes from a long history of working for not for profits.  She wanted to make an impact on her community and joined us two weeks ago.

This week also commemorates the 80th week we’ve been operating during the pandemic. And 30 of those weeks we were able to provide hot meals from local restaurants.  The community was a tremendous resource for us and still is.  We have a wonderful connection with Panera Bread on Central Avenue.  Below is Sue who is always there to pack up bakery goods and does so graciously after working a ten hour shift.

And of course, our long standing relationship with Ardsley United Methodist Church is a lifeline for us.  Thank you Ken Stahn for the latest delivery!

There are many other resources we are grateful for: bagels from New York Bagel Authority and The Shop in Ardsley, Sara Selitti for diaper drives, Stop & Shop for boxes of goods on a monthly basis – big kudos to manager Jim Luksis for encouraging shoppers to buy and donate items to the pantry!  Temple Beth Shalom for weekly vegetables; Michelle Pelluso and family for ongoing donations and volunteerism; Elmswood Day Camp and director Leora Cohen; and to those of you who have made donations large and small on our website.  We couldn’t continue to do what we do without you!

Biggest needs:  1 lb. bags of rice, size 6 diapers and baby wipes and adult diapers.  Keep in mind when donating, we prefer regular sized items rather than large Costco sized items, such as peanut butter or rice. We cannot open any donations and separate them into smaller units.

Thank you all for being a part of something bigger than any of us.

This week’s newsletter was written by Pantry Co-Director, Vera Halpenny, aka: the diaper lady.

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August 18, 2021

What brought me to volunteering at the Pantry was my desire to give back to my community and help those in need. But what surprised me is that a big part of what keeps me coming back each week is the inspiration and energy I get from my fellow volunteers: neighbors of all ages and backgrounds who selflessly give their time and skills, week in and week out. Senior citizens, teenagers and everyone in between who commit to hauling boxes of food, setting up tables, vacuuming the church, and most importantly, offering those who come to us for food a smiling face and an ear to listen.

Our 100% volunteer-run organization distributes food at South Presbyterian Church on Wednesdays from 10-12, but there are many, many more of hours during the rest of the week when dozens of volunteers work behind the scenes to make those two hours happen.

  • On Monday mornings we have a group of 5-6 volunteers who meet at the church to receive a pallet of canned food from Feeding Westchester. Those boxes need to be lugged into the church, opened, emptied and put away on shelves. Then the boxes need to be broken down and recycled. In the evening, we have a different crew of 6-8 volunteers who set up a boxing station and build and fill between 120-160 boxes of non-perishable foods to be given out on Wednesday. This crew stays about 2-3 hours filling boxes, restocking inventory and cleaning up after themselves so that the church barely knows that we were there.
  • On Tuesday mornings volunteers receive a weekly order from Driscoll’s, food items that we pay for using the generous donations we receive from the community. On Tuesday evenings, yet another group of volunteers meet at the church to sort and bag up another 120-160 bags of fresh produce that we get from sources such as Green Thumb from Feeding Westchester, Fable Farm, Temple Beth-Shalom, and even small donations from local community gardens. Another volunteer picks up donations from New York Bagel Authority in Dobbs Ferry, another from Panera Bread in Scarsdale. and yet another from The Shop in Ardsley. A father/son team stop by Mom’s Organic Market to load our refrigerators and freezer with dairy items generously donated by the store.
  • At various times throughout the week and the month, duties include picking up donations from Stop & Shop, attending a bi-weekly meeting with Feeding Westchester, posting to the Pantry’s social media sites, writing and posting this newsletter, keeping track of our finances and drumming up more donations – both food and cash (and then thanking said donors!).
  • On Wednesday mornings volunteers start showing up at 8:30 in the morning to set up tables, bring out food, greet clients who start lining up around the same time, and in inclement weather, set up tents. We have a group of three who organize and sort about 40 deliveries each week to be dropped off at the homes of clients who are not able to make it to the church on Wednesdays and another 5-7 drivers who bring the boxed and bagged food to their doorsteps. We have one volunteer who sorts and packages diapers to be given to our littlest clients. And still others who sort, organize and put away donations left in our bin or delivered to us by groups such as the Scarsdale Women’s Club and Ardsley Methodist Church.

The most important part of the whole operation, in my opinion, happens at noon on Wednesdays. After all of our clients have left with their edibles, we sit as a team of volunteers and discuss what worked, what didn’t, and what we can do better next week. We determine what we’ll need to order for the following week, who will do the ordering, shopping, picking up of what’s needed. We staff out this complex and dynamic schedule of weekly needs. And we congratulate each other on another successful week of hard work and dedication and fulfilling our mission of feeding our neighbors in need.

This week we served 132 families or 488 neighbors and added two new families to our list. Our most needed items this week are diapers (size 6), macaroni and cheese, and rice (1 lb bags).

This week’s newsletter was written by the Pantry Co-Director, Gretchen Skaggs, who knows that no one has made it through life without someone else’s help.

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August 11, 2021

Hey hey from the Food Pantry!

Today, in sweltering heat and dealing with the overbearing sun, our volunteers serviced 123 families amounting to 431 people, and made 39 deliveries to families homes. This is an increase from last week and additionally, today we saw new families join and register for the pantry.

We would like to extend our gratitude to The Panera Bread Company for the generous and extremely helpful donation of breads, pastries and baked goods. Additionally, our thanks goes to The Dobbs Ferry Bagel Authority and The Shop in Ardsley for providing us yet again with plenty of bagels to distribute to our families. To me, “Stocked” is an emotion evoking word; and at the food pantry it can mean a meal, a loaf of bread, or a chance at making it through the week. With the help of these three businesses I am beyond happy to be able to write that this week’s bread table was stocked and abundant. 

Special thanks yet again to Sara Selliti for providing the pantry with fantastic herbs and vegetables from the Springhurst Community Gardens! This coupled with her great help in collection and distribution of diapers for children makes Sara an invaluable asset to the pantry.

This week we had a great showing from our high school volunteers! 

Students including Dylan Lucasey and Emma Iframoff helped in communication with families. And in particular, Emma’s fluency in Russian impressed everyone and assisted in our ability to help out our non english speaking families. Biliteracy is a unique and special ability extremely valued at the pantry, we are so lucky to have a surplus of volunteers speaking more than their native language. 

After a little over a year of volunteering at the pantry, there are many niche pantry things that invigorate me and fill me with joy. Things like having to spend a lot of time bringing produce bags out, knowing that the reason it’s taking so long is because there’s just so much we have to give. Things like, when the pantry closes down for the day we have so much left over that volunteers offer leftover food to other volunteers because they know it’ll go bad and every family has been fed. Like I said, “Stocked” is a beautiful word. 

Written By: Adam Galland, a High School Volunteer in Dobbs Ferry, seen below doing quality control on the Panera pastries.

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August 4, 2021

This week’s distribution on Wednesday, August 4th, fed 100 families, representing 363 individuals (including 41 deliveries). 

We are grateful to all of you who contributed to the donation of food and supplies dropped off food this week at the Food Pantry, including:

  • Ardsley United Methodist Church.  Our contact wheelman, Ken Stahn, had Pastor Calvin Collins riding shotgun last Monday morning as they unloaded an SUV jammed with the results of the Church’s July 31st food drive.
  • Judy Connolly of Cabrini of Westchester stopped by with several boxes filled with shelf-stable food, diapers, various hygiene products.

The availability of our regular volunteers fluctuates throughout the summer months.  That’s especially true this summer when many volunteers’ families are meeting together for the first time since the Covid-19 Pandemic began.  But it’s still a time when demand for what we provide remains stronger.  Even though our latest numbers represent a significant decrease for the year to date, they are three times higher than our Pre-Pandemic averages. 

That’s What Friends Are For

And just when we think there are no more troops to help, that’s when our Terrific Teens ride to the rescue when needed most as they were this week.

Exhibit A: 

Roxana Melchor, Ashley Peralta, Sylvie Hoffman did it all: sorted and stored donations, moved food inventory outside, helped clients with their groceries, and discovered the one and only thing those crummy plastic bristle brooms they make these days are any good for.

And all our thanks to Anthony, Devin, Kieran, Suraj and Zach!  And a special-shout out to Anthony Corradina, who showed up early Monday morning to help prepare for major food deliveries when there was no one else on the bench.

Yes, It’s Fresh! 

Over the past 12 months, our Produce and Inventory teams have exponentially expanded the variety and quality of the fresh fruits and vegetables our clients receive to enhance healthy, balanced nutrition.  And we now have a terrific selection of bakery items to pick and choose from, staffed by Kristy Fitzgerald and Zina Zaino. (Photos by Ellen Crane Photography).

YOU’VE HEARD IT BEFORE: Our most needed donation items are: Size 4, 5 and 6 diapers and baby wipes, peanut butter in plastic jars, tomato sauce in plastic jars and cans of tuna.  And money.  We never say no to money.

This weeks blog authored by Duke Coffey – pantry volunteer

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July 28, 2021

This week’s distribution on July 28th fed 163 families, representing 587 individuals (including 42 deliveries).  The totals include 23 families representing 90 people served at our nighttime session.

We at the Food Pantry are continually amazed at the ways in which our sources of donated food and funds work their way to meet the weekly needs of our clients despite the vagaries of vacations, economics, weather and health emergencies.

Of course, these things don’t happen just by themselves.  It always starts with you, the individuals, who make this all happen by your singular donations or by participating in food drives. Our amazement lies in the differing pathway that emerge that ultimately connect your intentions with our clients’ needs.

Our goal is not simply to provide the basic “Box and a Bag” of shelf stable food and fresh fruit and vegetables that families need to maintain basic nutrition.  We – you, actually – go beyond that to provide other things that allow those in need to expand the variety and nutritional balance that supports good health.

Take bread, for example, a basic food we received irregularly and one that’s difficult for us to store for once-a-week distribution.  Thanks to the combined efforts of Panera Bread (Scarsdale), The Shop (Ardsley) and NY Bagel (Dobbs Ferry), we now have a table at which clients can select a variety of bread, bagels, rolls and sometimes even pastry from the same stores who have decided to join their customers in supporting the FP.

Similar supply miracles continue to happen this past week:

  • Lenora Cohen and Elmwood Day Camp made the second of three scheduled donations, dropping off several boxes of food.
  • Another delivery by Aldersgate Methodist Church of Dobbs Ferry made by a man who slips away before anyone can thank him.
  • A bag of food from a mother who said she wanted to help because of the great experience her teenage son recently had working as a volunteer for us.
  • And thanks to each and every one who has donated to us – at our table at the Jazz Forum each Wednesday evening (great time, great music), at Stop ‘n Shop’s food donation bins, through local restaurants, and also from those area organizations who provide the bulk of our Variable Inventory.

If you are reading this, then you’ve found all the ways in which you can help us provide the things we need. 

MOST NEEDED ITEMS: Size 4, 5 and 6 diapers and baby wipes, peanut butter in plastic jars, tomato sauce in plastic jars and cans of tuna.

This weeks blog written by pantry volunteer Duke Coffey.

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July 21, 2021

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Gandhi

The effort, teamwork, compassion and hard work that go into making the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry run is a sight to behold. From the amazing teenage volunteers who come with full hearts and great attitudes to the community volunteers who set up the tables so it looks like a beautiful farmers market and help guide the clients through selections.

The vendors who donate have truly made a world of difference. Elmwood Day Camp – donated today and will contribute for the next two weeks. The Scarsdale Woman’s Club pulled up in three cars loaded with food and diapers. Panera Bread has given us donations of breads and pastries and New York Bagel Authority donated bagels and will continue to do so. MOM’s Organic Market has also continuously donated generously. Please stop by these establishments and let them know how much you appreciate their contribution to the community.

The most important aspect of the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry are the families we serve. Our mission is not only to sup​​ply food but to treat our clients with kindness and empathy and for them to leave the pantry with hope that tomorrow can be better than today. 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

DONATE: Your cash donations go a long way in keeping the pantry stocked. We also have a table set up every Wednesday night at the Dobbs Ferry Summer Music Series in Waterfront Park. Please stop by! 

MOST NEEDED ITEMS: Size 4, 5 and 6 diapers and baby wipes, peanut butter in plastic jars, tomato sauce in plastic jars and tuna.

This week’s newsletter written by Pantry volunteer, Donna Assumma. Photos by Crane Photography.

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July 16, 2021

As a kid, I remember going to South Church and hearing what Rev. Joe Gilmore would say when he passed out the collection baskets. “Give what you can, take what you need”. 

Back then the food pantry was just that: a pantry. That’s all that was needed. Coming back to it as a volunteer at the beginning of this year I was in awe to find the pews filled with food, from the first to the last. Awe changed to dismay when I realized what that really meant. If there is this extraordinary effort to come together, that means there is a huge number of people who need the help. 

Since then, the Food Pantry has moved out of the Sanctuary — but the amount of space used and the amount of food needed has only increased. This week we served 121 families. 7 new families. 445 total people. 

Inside, I see volunteers work hard to put together food for big families, break down boxes and organize diapers into sizes. Outside, those who need it get their food, flanked by young people rolling carts, station by station. They greet volunteers with tender smiles and fantastic senses of humor. Everybody is playing their part for a larger cause. 

With everyone going away for the summer and with the pandemic numbers going down, there is a drop in donations. With school out, kids are missing two out of three guaranteed meals for the day. 

Which means donations are more important than ever. 

Most needed items this week: peanut butter (in plastic jars), pasta sauce (in plastic jars or cans), tuna, diapers size 4, 5, 6, and baby wipes.

Here’s one more Joe Gilmore quote – on his work with Midnight Run: “It’s not charity. It’s justice.”

This week’s newsletter was written by 18-year-old Lucas Nammour, DFHS class of ’20.

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July 7, 2021

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 dobbsferrypantry@gmail.com.

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.  

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June 30, 2021

“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers….”

Oh, right, that’s the postal service. (Actually, it seems the USPS doesn’t have an official motto, but that’s a topic for another day.) But I think the words also apply to the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry, especially today. Undaunted by the 102.6-degree heat, this morning’s volunteers served 150 households – 547 people – all of them seemingly in good spirits despite the temperature. To my amazement, I discovered that overseeing the Freebies table for two hours wasn’t a problem under the protection of a canopy. Then during evening hours, we served another 16 families. Six new families registered today, which tells us that the need persists in the Rivertowns. In all, it was another record-setting day in which we helped 333 adults, 214 children, and 56 seniors.

New this week was a bounty of breads, rolls, and pastries that Vera picked up over two nights from Panera Bread in Scarsdale. We are thrilled by the promise of a recurring donation from them. Today’s donations from MOM’S Organic Market included some beat-the-heat treats like dark chocolate tarts and cheddar jalapeño spread. Stop & Shop customers provided enough cereal to feed a small army. In our effort to expand our offerings and give people more choices, we continue to reach out to local businesses who may have leftovers to direct our way.

We continue to see new faces on Tuesday evenings when we pack boxes of shelf-stable goods and bags of produce for distribution the next day. Last night Michelle Peluso brought four Irvington neighbors to join the festivities. Their elbow grease was especially welcome as we prepared for the expected high attendance at the last pantry of the month, which is when we give out Stop & Shop gift cards.

Michelle Peluso and her Irvington neighbors pack boxes.

Not everyone takes the box of shelf-stable products but absolutely everybody wants an assortment of fresh produce. You can see why.

This week’s cornucopia

Nothing fazes our teen volunteers, including those shown here, not even assembling a shopping cart for the first time. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it does evoke Dad trying to put together toys on Christmas Eve. In the background, notice a finished product being put to good use.

Not exactly rocket science but assembling a shopping cart for the first time does present challenges.

That’s it for our update for this week. Y’all stay safe and cool!

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