September 6, 2017

Good evening, everybody – Today we served only 12 families, including 16 adults, 14 children and 7 seniors.

It’s a shame that so few people came, because we’re going ahead with our plan of giving out meat, fish or poultry on the first Wednesday of the month, and this morning twelve lucky families went home with frozen fish.

We also had eggs!  A couple in Ardsley who frequently donate food to us read my blog on the website in which I talked about our plan to offer eggs.  They went out and bought several dozen eggs and left them in the refrigerator at church, so we gave those out also.

Plus, Giuliana Urrelo of the Westchester Hispanic Coalition was there to give out flyers about a meeting tonight about the DACA program and another meeting on September 26 about domestic violence.

I took food over to the homebound couple I mentioned in last week’s blog.  Their nephew was there and he said he has signed them up for meals on wheels also.  We at the pantry will still stay in touch with them, though, to see what else they need in addition to meals on wheels.

We’re starting to plan our fall fundraiser.  A group of us volunteers went out to lunch at Sam’s Restaurant to celebrate summer birthdays and I talked to Maurice, the owner.  He agreed for us to have a fundraiser at Sam’s in October, so keep an eye out for the exact date and plan to eat out that night instead of cooking at home.  Or order a pizza.  We’ll get a portion of whatever is spent that night.

Last Friday I attended a workshop at the Food Bank entitled “Member Agency Basics”.  Only one other pantry was represented, although ten had signed up.  So we got a lot of individual attention.  It seems that the Food Bank wants pantries to do more than just give out food.  They want us to help clients in other ways.  I was proud to tell them that we also offer clothing, and we have a relationship with the Westchester Hispanic Coalition, whose representatives advise our clients on everything from domestic violence to immigration issues to employment and housing opportunities.  So we’ve grown over the years in what we offer to our clients.

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Bounty from the Roots and Wings garden for the pantry clients – thanks Roots and Wings!

roots and wings garden bounty

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August 31, 2017

Good afternoon, everybody – Yesterday in the morning we served a total of 26 families, including 40 adults, 41 children and 9 seniors.  Then in the evening Benny and I served another 5 families with 10 adults, 5 children and 2 seniors.  That brings us to 31 families with 50 adults, 46 children and 11 seniors.  We averaged 29 families a week in August.

Something exciting happened this morning – Denise, the church secretary, called to tell me a man contacted her saying he had learned about the pantry from Sacred Heart Church.  He’s the nephew of an elderly homebound couple (he’s 97, she’s 86) who live at Children’s Village.  If you used to work at Children’s Village you’re allowed to live there the rest of your life (it’s not true now, but they’re grandfathered in).  They’re both quite ill, and he discovered that they’ve been living on hot dogs and boiled eggs provided by neighbors because they can’t get out to shop.  This is just the kind of situation the pantry was created to help!  I ran over there with a bag of food, met them and made sure they have our number and we have theirs.  Their nephew was there, but he lives in Manhattan and can’t help most of the time.  We’ll call them every Wednesday to see what they need and run some food over to them.  Their nephew has also contacted an aid organization to visit them regularly, so maybe their lives will improve.

This Friday I’ll be attending the first of a series of workshops offered by the Food Bank.  We volunteers will take turns attending the workshops.  The one I’ll be attending is entitled “member agency basics”.

Since Bernard Harris’s obituary appeared in the Enterprise, we’ve received even more donations in his memory.  Thanks so much to the Harris family for asking that donations be made to the pantry.  It’s had a big impact because he was such a well-known and beloved person.

The Food Bank’s annual conference at the Double Tree is coming up.  It’s a full-day conference where they serve breakfast and lunch, and there are a number of workshops and important speakers, plus a chance to network.  I won’t be able to attend this year, for the first time, but we’re working on how many volunteers can represent us at this great conference.

We’ve decided that we’ll start offering eggs on a limited basis whenever they’re available at the Food Bank.  This is in response to a questionnaire we gave out to the clients.  One of the things several people asked for was eggs.  We’ll see how they manage to carry them home together with everything else they carry.

Yesterday Benny came home from the Dobbs Ferry Senior Center with a big donation of school supplies.  Thanks so much to Abby at the Senior Center for thinking of us.  Our evening clients last night were the first recipients, and they were delighted.  Earlier in the day a friend of the pantry dropped off three bags of baby clothes.  One client was leaving for Guatemala and she took a lot of the clothes to give to the impoverished mothers in Guatemala who can barely afford to clothe their children.

So, nothing goes to waste, including the extra vegetables we had from our Green Thumb allotment, which were dropped off at the Irvington Senior Center this morning.  The people were especially excited to be receiving eggplant.  The couple I visited this morning also got an eggplant and were already instructing their nephew in how to cook it as I was leaving

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August 23, 2017

Good afternoon, everybody – Today we served a total of 19 families, including 31 adults, 25 children and 5 seniors.

We’ve gotten another check from Share Your Wish, which is an Irvington-based organization through which children can encourage guests coming to their birthday parties to donate money to the food pantry instead of buying a present for the child.  The goal is to teach children the importance of giving instead of receiving, and helping people in need.  We’ve received several checks from Share Your Wish, which means that quite a few children go along with this and are willing to give up a gift in order to provide food for hungry families.

Bernard Harris, a beloved member of the Dobbs Ferry community, and especially dear to South Church and the food pantry, has passed away.  He was active on many fronts in Dobbs Ferry, and will be missed by many people.  In his obituary, his widow, Maria Harris, asked that people make donations to the food pantry, or to a charity of their choice.  We’ve already received several donations from people who may not have known about the pantry until now, but are offering support in Bernard’s memory.  Thank you so much, Maria, for thinking of us at this painful time.

Today was the final Wednesday for one of our clients, who has been with us every Wednesday since the beginning.  Because we’re a small pantry, we’ve gotten attached to our clients, and we gave her a couple of cakes, a card signed by all of us, and we sang “Happy Trails” to her (she and her family are moving away).

Now that we have a freezer, we’ll be able to follow through on our goal of providing meat, poultry and fish to our clients.  Next week, when Ellen and Eileen (as they do every month) pick up our monthly Green Thumb allotment at the Food Bank, they’ll also pick up several cases of fish, to be given out on the first Wednesday of the month.  So far we’ve given out ground turkey, sliced ham, and now fish.  And all those fresh fruits and vegetables from the garden, CSA and Green Thumb.  We’ve coming a long way from the beginning, when we were only able to give out canned food.

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August 16, 2017

Good afternoon, everybody – Today we served a total of 34 families, including 57 adults, 46 children and 7 seniors.

We were visited again by Berta Diaz from the Westchester Hispanic Coalition, and this time an attorney from WHC came with her.  They were with us the whole time, and several people had questions for the attorney.  He’s going to be in touch with a couple of people by phone.  Berta says she’ll be coming back on a regular basis, and the attorney thought he could make it periodically also.

We’ve finally decided that, although several clients have asked for it, we will not be open from 9:00 to 12:00 instead of 10:00 to 12:00.  It’s just too hard for volunteers to arrive that early, plus Linda Jo warned us that the Community Nursery School starts its day at 9:00, which means that the arrival of food pantry clients would only add more chaos to the mix.

We are pursuing the idea of being open two Wednesday evenings per month instead of once, however.  A number of volunteers said they could make themselves available consistently on the second Wednesday of the month from 5:30 to 7:00.  One volunteer wanted to know if clients could actually help with the running of the pantry on that evening.  I threw it out to the clients, and one woman said that she believed that either she or her adult son could help out in the evening.  We’re not definitely sure about this, but we’ll continue to look into it.  The clients in general liked the idea of our being open two evenings a month.

One of the clients who’s been with us every week since the beginning is moving away in a couple of weeks.  Very sad.

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August 9, 2017

Good afternoon, everybody – Today we served a total of 33 families, including 53 adults, 44 children and 10 seniors.

We volunteers hold a brief meeting every Wednesday morning before the pantry opens, and this morning we discussed again the request made by some of the clients for us to be open from 9:00-12:00 instead of 10:00-12:00.  The volunteers in general were not in favor of this expansion, but one of the volunteers suggested that we consider being open two Wednesday evenings per month instead of once.  Several volunteers offered to be available if we expanded our time this way.  Next week we’ll ask the clients if this would be helpful.

One client this week who wasn’t here the last couple of weeks filled out a questionnaire.  Similar to several other clients, she asked that we offer eggs in addition to the other foods.  We’ll study the storage situation further to see if there’s refrigeration room to keep several dozen eggs in addition to everything else we place in the refrigerator.

Tom will be handling the CSA for the next two weeks.  This will be the first time he’s picked up the CSA, but he’s ready to jump in and help.  Andrew will help also if he arrives at church early enough.  Lyn will take the last Sunday of the month.  Then we’ll figure out about September.

We’ll be needing more funds to continue ordering food for the pantry from the Food Bank, plus what we volunteers buy to provide what the Food Bank doesn’t have.  In September we’ll be approaching a couple of restaurants in Dobbs Ferry to ask if we can do a fundraiser on a night in October that’s convenient to them.  We’ve done this before and it’s been a popular, and delicious, way for us to earn money.

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August 2, 2017

Good afternoon, everybody – Today we served a total of 26 families, including 40 adults, 28 children and 6 seniors.

Berta Diaz of the Westchester Hispanic Coalition was with us again today, although she didn’t arrive until around 11:00, so she missed a lot of the clients.  It turns out she did an internship at Cabrini Immigrant Services here in Dobbs Ferry, so she actually knows a lot of the clients.  She was able to give out information about the WHC programs anyway (domestic violence, immigration and others), to the people who came late.  She also even gave information to the mailman, who may know somebody who needs the services WHC offers.  She’s coming back August 16, together with an immigration attorney, and she’ll be able to arrive earlier, so that whoever has questions for that attorney can be helped.

In response to the questionnaires we gave out, we volunteers have been discussing whether to be open from 9:00 to 12:00, as people requested; stay at 10:00 to 12:00, or be open from 9:00 to 11:00.  A number of volunteers weren’t thrilled at having to be at the pantry an hour earlier, but we’ll continue to explore the idea.

People also asked for meat, which we’re beginning to offer now that we have a freezer (thanks Mahoney family).  They also asked for eggs – that calls for refrigerator storage, not freezer storage, so we’ll have to think about that – a dozen eggs for each family?  That’s a lot of refrigerator space.  We’ll do it if we can figure it out.

We’ll be getting a lot of produce from the CSA this Sunday – cucumbers, scallions, kale, kohlrabi (need recipes), eggplant, chocolate mint (!) corn and some kind of fruit.  This week somebody from the Roots & Wings garden brought in eggplant and cucumbers.  So, we have a lot of fresh food for the clients in addition to the shelf-stable foods we’ve always carried.

Summer just flies by – it’s August already!

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July 27, 2017

Good morning, everybody – Yesterday in the morning we served a total of 30 families, including 48 adults, 37 children and 8 seniors.  Then in the evening we served another 10 families, including 21 adults, 16 children and 2 seniors, for a total of 40 families, 69 adults, 53 children and 10 seniors.  We averaged 33 families a week in July.

In the evening I got a chance to visit the Roots & Wings garden and came back with some spectacular herbs – basil, thyme, fragrant mint, etc., etc.  It was all gone by the end of the evening.

Yesterday our clients told us that many of them went to Verizon on Sunday, and everybody was given at least one filled backpack.  It wasn’t even necessary for them to bring those tickets we gave out last week.  Everybody was very happy, and it was a great thing that Verizon did for people.  Plus, everybody got a free smoothie from Smoothie King next door.

We decided to give out a little questionnaire to the clients yesterday, asking for feedback about the pantry.  We asked for suggestions about how the pantry could better help them.  Last night I got a chance to glance over their responses, and the most common request was for us to be open from 9:00 to 12:00 instead of from 10:00 to 12:00.  This would call for more volunteer time, so we’ll discuss it in our next meeting (we hold a little meeting every Wednesday morning before the pantry opens).

I’ll be speaking about the pantry this coming Sunday at Ardsley United Methodist Church.  They’ve been so very supportive of us through the summer, when food is even more important to the family since there’s no school.  Last week they brought us SEVEN cases of assorted canned vegetables, plus a lot of other food.  The people at AUMC are amazing, particularly Brenda and Ken Stahn, who are the people who bring the food from AUMC to South Church every time.

Last Sunday Benny and I represented the pantry at the community table of the Irvington Farmers’ Market.  What a wonderful place, but dangerous, too – I ended up buying delicious bread and ice cream, just because it was there.  I asked people to buy fruit or vegetables and we would refrigerate it until Wednesday.  Nobody actually did that, but people donated a lot of cash, so it was definitely worth our being there.  Plus we gave out all the brochures we had (thanks to Ellen for constantly printing those out), so we were able to educate people about the presence of the pantry and the hunger that exists even in the Rivertowns.

I’ll be handling the CSA for the next two Sundays.  Starting this Sunday they’ll have bread for sale in addition to the produce (uh-oh – be still, my heart).

The Westchester Hispanic Coalition will be with us again this coming Wednesday to continue alerting people about the many free services they offer in White Plains.

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July 23, 2017 – representing the pantry at the Irvington Farmers’ Market – good place, good food, generous people

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July 20, 2017

Good morning, everybody – Yesterday we served a total of 38 families, including 65 adults, 56 children and 6 seniors.  On the third Wednesday of the month we give out flour and oil in addition to the foods we routinely stock.  It’s expensive, so we can only afford to offer it once a month.  Even if they don’t make it on other Wednesdays, everybody arrives on the third Wednesday, in order to pick up their flour and oil.

Thanks to Barbara, I went to the Verizon e-mail site to register for ten free, filled backpacks for pantry clients.  People drew numbers yesterday, and ten clients will go to Verizon this Sunday, accompanied by a child, to pick up their backpack.  Since this was advertised on Facebook, and they were only offering 100 backpacks, it’ll be interesting to see if any of our clients get there in time.  We like to help people out with things other than food when we can.

The Westchester Hispanic Coalition in White Plains will be visiting us twice in August – once on August 2 and again on August 16.  The WHC offers many programs, and not just for Latino people, either.  This is a chance for our clients to learn more about what’s available.  And there’s no charge for any of their services, so even people who are struggling can avail themselves of WHC’s services.

Lyn will be picking up our CSA this Sunday.  They’ll be offering cherry tomatoes, summer squash, lettuce, pickle cucumbers, potatoes, mint and possible cauliflower.  Plus more blueberries.  The blueberries went fast yesterday.  And Marc has been providing us with produce from the garden on Sunday mornings as well.

Yesterday when the pantry was finished there was some bread left over, as well as some herbs from the Roots & Wings garden.  The Irvington Senior Center is always happy to take whatever we have left over.  Thanks to Eileen, not only for picking up the bread at Stop & Shop every Wednesday but then for driving whatever we have left over to Irvington.   She works hard for the pantry.

This Sunday I’ll be representing the pantry at the Irvington Farmers’ Market at their community table, just like last year.  The Irvington Farmers’ Market, Sundays from 9:00 to 1:30, has a wonderful vibe to it.  Delicious food, of course, but also live music and a place to sit, listen to the musicians and eat whatever you bought.  Maybe some people on this list will be there.

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