A small portion of the food boxes lovingly packed by pantry volunteers to be given to hungry clients tomorrow

photo of pantry food boxes

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June 1, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – This past Wednesday the volunteers served another record number of clients – 124 families, including 245 adults, 176 children and 36 seniors, for a total of 457 people served.  In the month of May we averaged 117 families and 438 people per week.  Back in January we were averaging 42 families and 153 people per week.  That’s a huge increase, and we continue to give gift cards to every local family along with prepackaged food.  The gift card gives them a chance to go to Stop & Shop and choose whatever food they want after seeing what’s in the prepackaged bag or box.  That’s the only way we can stick to our goal of allowing clients to have some choice over what food they want.  We’ll keep it up as long as we can.

          I got an email from a woman who wants to have a distance block party and ask every family to bring food for the pantry.  That’s a wonderful idea.  Every week we receive food from Feeding Westchester, but then we add to the bag or box of food from our pantry that we know our clients will need.  So, we need food as well as monetary donations.  If anybody is thinking of donating food to us, here is a list of what we need this week:
                                  Canned green vegetables
                                  Canned fruit
                                  Canned tomatoes
                                  Pasta sauce
                                  Individual juice packs
                                  Size 6 diapers
          There’s also a Dobbs Ferry teen who plans to do a fundraiser for the pantry as part of what’s required for an IB diploma.  What a great thing!  It helps him and it helps us.  Not sure what fundraiser he has in mind, but everything helps.
          This week, in addition to their food and gift card, clients went home with prepared food from Harper’s/On The Line and soup and bread from MadeByRK.  Thanks so much for these donors.  They go to a lot of work so that our clients can be well-fed.
          Hope everybody can get outside and enjoy this summer-y weather.  The virus hates fresh air and sun.
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May 21, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – yesterday the number of clients served by the pantry climbed even higher.  Yesterday 119 families were served, as opposed to last week, when it was 114 and the week before when it was 109.  In the old days we used to serve 35-40 families a week.  Those 119 families consisted of 243 adults, 173 children and 37 seniors for a total of 453 people served.  Every week new people arrive, most of whom live in our area and may be with us for the long term.  Even if they go back to work, they may visit us at the evening pantry on the last Wednesday of the month.  We’ve temporarily suspended the evening pantry because most people are coming during the day now, but we’ll start it up again as soon as it’s needed.

          I must share something that warmed my heart.  A woman walked by South Church yesterday morning, saw the volunteers serving the clients and was so touched by it that she went straight home and made a PayPal donation on our website.  She just wanted to help!  Thanks to everybody who’s donating to us so that we can continue to help people whose backs are against the wall right now.
          One of the volunteers yesterday was Liz Dreaper, Dobbs Ferry Village Clerk.  She handed out bread to the clients while providing guidance and answering questions anybody had about the 2020 Census (whose deadline has been extended into October, by the way).  She was a great help and an important source of information, too.  Thank you, Liz!  Since the deadline has been extended, maybe Liz can visit a time or two over the summer in case somebody needs information.  She was very encouraging, and she’s the type of person who plunges in, so she’ll be helping to feed  the clients at the same time.
          Yesterday, in addition to a Stop & Shop gift card, the clients took home a bag or box of shelf-stable food from Feeding Westchester plus fresh produce, also provided by Feeding Westchester.  They also received bread and yogurt from two anonymous donors, prepared meals from Harper’s/On The Line and soup and bread from MadeByRK.  Next week a farmer will be donating some bok choy to the Roots & Wings kitchen garden behind the church, and Marc Taiano says some of the bok choy will be shared with the Pantry.  Soon we’ll be receiving herbs and vegetables from the kitchen garden again, plus the CSA starts June 21.  So, our clients will have plenty of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables over the summer.  If we keep seeing so many families we may have to purchase additional produce, but we’re determined to make sure everybody gets some fresh produce in addition to their shelf-stable foods.
          A shout-out to Town Supervisor Paul Feiner for publishing updated information about our Pantry and our need for donations, both edible and monetary.  Thank you, Paul!


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May 14, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – the number of people coming for food to the pantry keeps increasing from week to week.  Yesterday we served 114 families.  Last week it was 109 and the week before it was 106.  Those 114 families consisted of 218 adults, 164 children and 36 seniors, for a total of 148 people served.

          The clients are being helped not only by the gift cards and food we give them from the pantry, but also by prepared meals sent by Harper’s Restaurant/On The Line; by soup and bread brought by MadeByRK; by masks brought by MaryJane Shimsky from a partnership between the County and Hanes; by more masks and hand sanitizer from the Village of Dobbs Ferry; by food from Fable Farm; and by food generously bought and delivered from the Hough family, the Conway family, Meg Lindsay, a group led by Rabbi Young at Woodlands Community Temple, and the Hinksmon family, who also helped to pack boxes.  We are grateful to people in the community who can provide food for our clients, some of whom never thought they’d need a food pantry.
          Next week there will be an exciting Zoom meeting sponsored by Roots & Wings, South Church’s sustainable living initiative, which will focus on food insecurity and ways groups in the community can partner together to help.  Robin and I will be at the meeting, as will the Roots & Wings crew, community gardeners (they’re already at work in the garden behind the church), and people from the Village Sustainability Task Force.  Maybe others, too.  Check with Roots & Wings if you want to know more about the meeting, but it sounds like another opportunity for the pantry to partner with the many helpful groups in the Rivertowns.  There is a cooperative spirit around here that is amazing to see – and it’s growing!
          Our thanks to the Hudson River Presbytery for giving us a much-needed grant.  We were on a Zoom meeting with the Presbytery this past Monday, and it’s mind-boggling how huge the Hudson River Presbytery is.  It covers several different counties, and most of the food pantries covered by the Presbytery were on that call.  It’s sad that there are so many hungry people in the Hudson Valley that all these pantries are seeing more and more people.  And the Presbytery plans to help them all.
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May 7, 2020

The Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry continues to march along, each week receiving more clients.  Yesterday we served 109 families (last week it was 106)  with 227 adults, 168 children and 35 seniors, totaling 425 people served.  Of the nine new families registered, six were from out of the area.  They were served (we never send anybody away empty-handed) and referred to pantries in their area.  The other three families are from around here and may continue with us in the future.

          Once again, in addition to their food and gift cards, the clients took home prepared food from Harpers/On the Line; soup and bread from MadeByRK; produce, bagels, cookies, milk and cheese donated by Fable Farm (which will be our weekly CSA in the summer); and yogurt provided by a generous donor.
          They’ve extended the deadline for filling out the census form, and the Pantry will be working with the Village of Dobbs Ferry Sustainability Task Force to encourage people who come to the Pantry to fill the form out.
          Feeding Westchester, the organization which provides low-cost food and other assistance to pantries and soup kitchens throughout Westchester (nationally it’s Feeding America) has a Zoom meeting every Thursday.  Today I participated and learned that during the month of April they provided 2,000,000 pounds of food to pantries, including us.  Ellen Klein, from our pantry, orders shelf-stable food and produce from them on a regular basis, and so do many other pantries in the County.  A new idea they have is to offer virtual nutrition classes for clients over Facebook Live, during which a recipe is made and discussed.  If they go through with it, we’ll see if any of our clients are interested in learning more about nutrition.
          We’ve received many donations from individuals in the community by way of the PayPal feature on our website (www.dobbsferrypantry.org).  We continue to rely on these donations as we continue serving more and more needy families in our area.  Hopefully it will come to an end at some point, and we can return to our client-choice pantry the way we have for years.  Until then, though, thanks and thanks again to all the people (many on this list) who are helping us help those families.
Happy Mothers’ Day, everybody!


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April 30, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – The month of April, during the COVID-19 pandemic – has been mind-boggling for the pantry.  We had no idea we’d receive such generosity from the community, including local restaurants and caterers.  And the makeup of the pantry itself has changed as well.  Several of us regular volunteers haven’t been physically at the pantry in weeks due to sheltering at home, and volunteers from Spring Community Partners and others from the community have stepped right up and plunged in.  It’s like CPR.  The pantry swept smoothly along with a mix of volunteers who have been with us for years and new volunteers, all working together towards the same goal – helping people the best way we can.

          Look at these statistics:  Yesterday the pantry served 100 (yes, 100) families during the day and another 6 at night.  Last week we served 95 families, and the week before it was 84.  So, we’re growing by leaps and bounds, and we’re working very hard to be able to continue giving gift cards every week to clients who live in our area, including all the new ones.  Many of these new clients never thought they’d ever need a food pantry, but now they need help and we’re there for them.
          Those 106 families consisted of 213 adults, 164 children and 34 seniors.  In the month of April we averaged 86 families a week and 326 people a week.  In March it was an average of 53 families and 198 people, and in February it was an average of 40 families and 147 people served.
          The big change is that we’re giving Stop & Shop gift cards to all the clients from Dobbs Ferry, Ardsley, Irvington and Greenburgh.  And we wouldn’t be able to afford that without the generosity of people on this list and in the community, who have continued to donate to us through our website, www.dobbsferrypantry.org.  Profound thanks to every one of you.
          Besides our monetary donations, the Ardsley Methodist Women sent us twenty $25 Stop & Shop gift cards, faithfully delivered by Ken Stahn.  Those gift cards will be given out this coming Wednesday.
          We’ve been offering our clients fresh produce from a CSA (community-supported agriculture) every week in the summer for several years, augmented by produce from our own kitchen garden behind the church, cultivated by South Church’s own Roots & Wings initiative.  Our clients have come to look forward to those fresh fruits and vegetables, and we’ll be doing it again this year.  FABLE Farm in Ossining will be providing weekly shares again every Sunday morning, and the pantry has ordered two shares.  The CSA will run every Sunday from the first or second week in June until the fall.  If anybody on this list hasn’t signed up but would like to, go to the Roots & Wings website at www.rivertownscommunitygardens.com.
          A special shout-out to Spring Community Partners Co-Director Robin Larkins.  She’s been with the pantry in one way or another from its inception years ago, and now, on top of everything else she does, she’s been at the front table at the pantry every Wednesday, signing people in and handing out the food and gift cards.  That’s not all.  She has compiled all our statistics every week, been present at every delivery from Feeding Westchester, and has made deliveries herself in addition to helping the clients who come to the pantry.  Yesterday, thanks again to Harpers Restaurant, there were extra prepared meals left over.  Robin personally took them to Cabrini of Westchester and dropped them off.  She’s a person with a heart of gold, and she’s become invaluable to the pantry.
          I would also like to mention that Robin’s co-director, Ellen Crane, has also been regularly with the pantry.  She and volunteer Nora Gibbons stay outside to make sure everybody stays six feet apart.  While she’s doing that she also takes time to ply her trade – photography.  She takes pictures of the volunteers doing everything they do, and then posts them on Facebook and Instagram.  We’ve never had such great publicity before.  Thank you, Ellen.
          Ellen and Robin are part of a coterie of volunteers who have amazed me during this crisis with their dedication and their ability to work together during the stress generated by this whole pandemic.  Every one of them will deserve a gold plaque when this is over.
          This week the clients, in addition to their gift cards and produce and shelf-stable food from Feeding Westchester, again went home with delicious soup and bread from caterer Renee Kashuba of MadeByRK and prepared meals from Harpers.  Harpers is part of an initiative by the name of On-The-Line Humanitarian Meal Delivery.  It was started by Michelle Adams of Harpers, and now many other restaurants, vendors and volunteers have joined in to provide food to needy Westchester communities.  You can find out more about them by visiting their website at www.on-the-line.org.
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April 24, 2020

Good morning, everybody – Wednesday’s food pantry was another record-breaker.  This week the volunteers served 95 (that’s right – 95) families, including 191 adults, 143 children and 32 seniors, for a total of 366 people served.  Last week they served 84 families and the week before it was 81.  We’ll keep going as long as we can, and we’re constantly being helped by Spring Community Partners, restaurants and caterers and individuals in our area.  The Village of Dobbs Ferry is helping us also through the Mayor’s Newsletter.  And people have been making donations by check and to the PayPal account on our website.  So, with a little help from our friends, I think we can continue to help hungry people for a long time to come.  We’re glad we can do it.

          Speaking of restaurants and caterers, Harper’s Restaurant has brought prepared food for our clients every single week since we started this adventure.  I hope people can order take-out from Harper’s so that they can stay open until this is all over.
          Then we were contacted by caterer Renee Kashuba, of MadeByRK, offering to help us in any way she can.  She wants to maintain a long-term relationship with us since she’s so nearby.  Are we lucky or what?  And she came Wednesday with enough bread and Greek egg-lemon soup for everybody.  Next week she’s bringing soup and bread again!  Thank you, Renee!
          So, our clients went home with a gift card; some produce from Harvest Field Market in Tarrytown, thanks to Adele Falco; some shelf-stable food from our pantry; some prepared food from Harper’s and bread and soup from MadeByRK.  Our clients may be having trouble coming up with rent and taxes, but at least they’ll have some food on their plates.
          Our clients who have babies also desperately need diapers.  So, Spring Community Partners board member Suzy Barnett visited Costco and found out that, with a letter from the Pantry and a letter from Spring, Costco would authorize a volunteer with a Costco membership to make purchases on behalf of both organizations.  So, Suzy’s determined efforts will help us for a long time going forward.  And, lo and behold, that very day they sent Suzy home with a donation of ten large boxes of diapers for our clients.  Our deepest thanks to Costco and to Suzy!
          Also, a couple of days ago I was contacted by friend-of-the-pantry Cheryl Hajjar of the Masters School.  She said that even though the school is closed, a number of students are working online with one of the teachers who has a 3D printer and they’re creating face protectors.  She offered us volunteers some face protectors, and her son dropped off fifteen of them last night.  Our volunteers will be well-protected next week, thanks to the Masters School for their contributions in this very important field.
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April 16, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – yesterday our valiant volunteers broke another record.  They served 84 families (last week there were 81), consisting of 168 adults, 123 children and 28 seniors, for a total of 319 people served.  There were a number of people from areas other than the Rivertowns, but since several pantries have closed temporarily, we’ve determined that we’ll serve everyone who needs food.  We can figure out who is served by a pantry in a different area after this is all over.  We will never send anybody away empty-handed.

          The pantry has a dedicated corps of volunteers who work wonderfully together.  We really only need around five or six volunteers because we’re streamlining the process so that the clients can get their food and gift cards and quickly leave.  A couple of Wednesdays the pantry has had so many volunteers that people were tripping over each other.  My only hope is that the volunteers who are above and beyond the five or six can wait until we need more volunteers.  Then they’ll already know the lay of the land and can jump right in.
          We received more masks from volunteer mask-makers yesterday.  Anilla’s friend, Theodora Argyros, has not only made masks for the pantry but has sold other masks and donated the money she made to the pantry!  Anilla came yesterday with an envelope full of cash from her.  Thank you so much, Theodora!
          On top of that, Peggie Blizzard sent more hand-made masks.  The volunteers were able to offer masks to the clients as they picked up their food.  In fact, most of the clients already had masks, but whoever didn’t received a mask yesterday.
          This was the third week that Harper’s Restaurant sent food for our clients to take home.  The clients got food from Feeding Westchester, some produce purchased for us by Adele Falco of Curiositas, gift cards, and prepared food.  And Adele will be ordering more produce from Harvest Field Market in Tarrytown, who is providing the food to Adele at a reduced price for the Pantry.  Thank you, Adele.
          Dobbs Ferry has suffered some painful losses due to this virus lately.  South Church in particular has lost a loved one whose absence will be felt profoundly for years to come.  I hope everybody on this list stays safe and strong until this scourge finally leaves us.
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April 10, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – This past Wednesday we broke a record for the food pantry.  We served a total of 81 families, some of them for the first time.  The total included 150 adults, 111 children and 30 seniors, which came to 291 people served.

          At the beginning of the COVID crisis we were worried because many of the volunteers didn’t have masks.  Since then quite a number of people in the community have started making masks.  A couple of weeks ago Anilla brought masks made by a friend of hers in Hastings, and this past Wednesday friend of the pantry Teresa Williams brought more masks.  Ellen reports that Peggy Blizard, another friend of the pantry, has given her more masks for the volunteers, and she understands that Vikki Jones is also hard at work on masks.  Our thanks to all these people.  If we have enough masks we’ll offer them to the clients as they come to pick up their gift card and food.
          This past Wednesday the clients again got a gift card of varying denominations, depending on the size of their family; and they also received another box of shelf-stable food from Feeding Westchester.  In addition, Adele Falco, owner of Curiositas, provided the clients with fresh produce.  She has offered to be a “shopper” for us when we need it, and I think we’ll be taking her up on that.
          The clients also got prepared food sent by Harper’s Restaurant and The Cookery, and one of our clients posted a video on Facebook, showing the foods she brought home from the pantry.  The community, including the Mayor’s office, the Recreation Department and the restaurants, has been supporting the pantry all along, as has the Session of South Presbyterian Church.  Not to mention Spring Community Partners and all the individuals who have made donations to us.  We need all this support, and we deeply appreciate it.
          In addition to their food and gift card, each client this past Wednesday got information about the 2020 Census in either English or Spanish, provided by the Mayor’s office.  Hopefully they’ll sit down and read what it says and will respond to the Census before the cut-off date.
          Marc and Robin have been making contact-free deliveries to a number of our clients who can’t get to the pantry due to immunocompromised status or for some other reason.  Others in the community have also offered to make deliveries for us, so we should be able to help anybody who needs food but can’t get to us.
          We’re applying to the Presbyterian Church for a grant to help us continue to provide our clients with gift cards every week so that they can choose whatever food they want at Stop & Shop.  Keep your fingers crossed for us.
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April 2, 2020

Good afternoon, everybody – yes, we’re still open.  Yesterday the volunteers served a total of 62 families, including 128 adults, 92 children and 22 seniors, for a total of 243 people served.  The clients went home with a box of food from Feeding Westchester, a gift card, a container of soup from Rare Bit Restaurant and a packaged lunch from Harper’s Restaurant consisting of rice and beans with chicken.

          And all the volunteers wore masks handmade by a friend of Anilla Cherian, who volunteered at the pantry.
          Several volunteers were outside, making sure that everyone stayed six feet apart and that everyone got a lunch from Harper’s and soup from Rare Bit.  Each client stepped up to the table, took a box and a card, picked up their soup and food and went on their way.  The table was wiped down with a sanitary wipe after each client.  The volunteers felt that it went well, and Anilla took pictures and posted them on Facebook!  Many people from the community are getting involved.
          Still, we’ll see what we do next week.  We’re still taking it week by week.  People are getting more and more nervous about the virus, and it’s possible that some of our clients would rather not come out and risk getting sick.  We may end up delivering food to some people who can’t come out.
          We’ll keep everybody posted by way of these weekly e-mails.
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