January 24, 2018

Hello, everyone – Today we served a total of 28 families, including 40 adults, 35 children and 8 seniors.

Today we were inspected by the Food Bank for Westchester.  They visit every pantry affiliated with them periodically to make sure we’re serving nutritious food and maintaining the pantry in clean condition.  I’m happy to say we passed with flying colors.  They’ll visit us again 18 months from now.
On Tuesday we received a huge donation of food from the second- and third-graders at Springhurst through their Kids Can program.  The delivery came at a good time, when we were running low on some of our more-popular foods.  They sent us a lot of tuna and a lot of hearty soups (all of which are gone by now, by the way).  Special kudos to Nola Kende Long and Sharon Van Engen for engineering this drive for us.  They’ll be doing it again for us in the spring.  A sincere thank-you to everyone at Springhurst for caring for us through the years.
Anilla Cherian and her fellow team parents are organizing a food drive for us at Stop & Shop for Saturday, February 3 – the day before the Super Bowl.  The team has done this for us in prior years and we end up with an amazing amount of food.  No one can resist the charm of the team players.  Be sure to visit Stop & Shop that day so you can contribute.
Another program at Springhurst that has helped us is the collecting of food that students at Springhurst leave untouched at lunch.  The cafeteria staff had been throwing it all out but they were bothered by getting rid of perfectly good food.  Now, custodian Jose Soto brings it over to us at the pantry on Tuesdays and Fridays and puts it into our refrigerator.  We get a lot of apples, yogurt, cheese sticks, energy bars, etc., and our clients are happy to take it.  Now I heard from Sara Sellitti, who’s on the garden and compost committee at Springhurst, that they’re planning on expanding the program to include food left behind by the students at the middle/high school as well.  So we’ll have even more lunch food to offer to our clients.  Nothing goes to waste.
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January 17, 2018

Good afternoon, everyone – yesterday, in spite of the snow, we served a total of 22 families, including 31 adults, 32 children and 7 seniors.

This afternoon we received a generous donation of fourteen bags of shelf-stable food from Ardsley United Methodist Church.  Ken Stahn is the one who organizes the collection of food at the church, and he’s the one who brings the food to us in the trunk of his car.  Thanks so much to AUMC and to Ken for your consistent attention to our pantry.  We receive donations from many churches and synagogues, but Ardsley Methodist, Dobbs Ferry Lutheran and Zion Episcopal are the churches who donate to us regularly and reliably.  Thanks to all of you.
Speaking of donations, this coming Tuesday we’ll be receiving the second of three collections of food from Springhurst School in Dobbs Ferry.  This month we’ll be receiving a donation from the second- and third-graders at the school.  The Springhurst Kids Can program is a long-running help for our pantry, and this year it’s being spearheaded by Nola Kende Long and her associates.  Springhurst also sends us unopened food which is not taken by the students during lunch every day.  Custodian Jose Soto drops the food off every Tuesday and Friday, and we find it waiting for us in the refrigerator.
This morning Benny and I met with a couple who operate a food pantry at the First Presbyterian Church in Yorktown.  They’ve developed a laptop database which they use to register and sign in the clients each time the pantry is open.  We’ve been doing it all by hand since we opened in 2013, but we were wondering if it could be done more easily if it were all computerized.  They’ve e-mailed us an overview of the program, and Benny will be discussing it with the subcommittee in charge of finding the most equitable way of providing food for our clients.  We’re in the process of re-interviewing our clients now to update our information in preparation for this change, so now would be a good time to put everything into a database, if we decide to go ahead with it.  The Yorktown pantry, by the way, has been in operation for 25 years.  The woman we talked to this morning has been running the program for 15 years.  After 4-1/2 years, we’re the new kids on the block.
This week I got an e-mail from Felipe Henao, Director of the Student Life program at Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry.  He told me they would like to establish a food pantry at Mercy for their food-insecure students like the pantry at Mercy’s Bronx campus.  He wanted advice from us and he invited us to visit him at Mercy.  I told him that when Lyn returns from vacation I’ll let him know and we’ll set a time for both of us to drop over there and see what they have planned.  I also invited him to visit us one Wednesday morning to see how we operate.
In response to our USDA anti-discrimination training we’ve posted on our website and on our brochure that we are an equal-opportunity provider.  And we have a notification posted at the pantry with a USDA website listed, in case anybody ever wanted to lodge a complaint against us.
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January 11, 2018

Good afternoon, everybody – yesterday we served a total of 21 families, including 29 adults, 25 children and 9 seniors.

Two of our volunteers have already taken the training for the USDA civil rights requirement.  We’ll all be trained by February.  We’ve determined that a person in a wheelchair can easily participate in the pantry, and we have the USDA poster displayed which shows how a person could lodge a formal complaint against us with the USDA.  I doubt that will ever happen since we welcome everybody to the pantry.
One of our long-time volunteers and supporters had a bar mitzvah for her son.  The centerpiece on each table was a couple of cans of food, decoratively wrapped.  Her husband dropped off the food yesterday, which was immediately put on the shelf and given out.  What an innovative idea!  She had asked us ahead of time what products we’d like, so she sent us a lot of tuna and canned tomatoes – exactly what we needed immediately.  We’re eternally grateful to families who share their life events with us like this.
During the week I was contacted by a woman named Rebecca from the Cornell Cooperative Extension.  She told me that the Teamsters Union had had a food drive which yielded 2,000 pounds of food.  They donated it all to the Extension, and the food was delivered to pantries in Westchester County.  Rebecca herself brought 200 pounds of food to our pantry yesterday, which will be given out over the next few Wednesdays.  We’re appreciative of the fact that the Extension included us on their list of pantries.
I was also contacted by a woman who lives in Greenburgh who wondered how she could help.  I told her we need diapers and baby wipes because there are several clients of the pantry who have children in diapers.  She ordered a huge box of assorted sizes of diapers from Amazon, which was delivered to my house, together with another box of toiletries.  Yesterday when I got home from the pantry there was a huge carton of baby wipes – 27 packs to be exact.  What a generous, caring woman.  She has a baby herself, so she understands how valuable these diapers and wipes are to these struggling mothers.  And she plans on sending donations to us every other month or so on a regular basis.  Several mothers went home with diapers yesterday because of the generosity of this one woman.
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January 3, 2018

Good afternoon, everybody – yesterday we served a total of 21 families, including 31 adults, 25 children and 9 seniors.  Of those 21 families, 3 were families to whom we delivered food because they were elderly or disabled and couldn’t get to the pantry.  Tricia took food to a family in Ardsley and Benny and I delivered food to two families in Dobbs Ferry.  We’re glad to help.
In addition to our weekly bread donation from Stop & Shop and our weekly milk donation from Westchester Milk, we also get a donation of bagels every week from the New York Bagel Authority on Cedar Street in Dobbs Ferry, picked up by Ellen or one of the other volunteers.  Whatever bagels we don’t give out go either to the Days of Wonder Day Care program at South Church or to the Dobbs Ferry and Irvington Senior Citizens’ programs.  We deeply appreciate these regular donations and the volunteers who pick them up.
I attended an interesting Food Bank meeting on January 2 in Mohegan Park.  It seems that everyone who comes in contact with the clients of a food pantry or soup kitchen must take the USDA Civil Rights training each year.  I’m happy to say that, training or no, our pantry has never discriminated against anyone based on race, color, national origin, age, sex or disability.
To make our training a little easier, since everyone has to take the training, we’re scheduling a potluck during which we can eat and study the manual together so that we can all sign the log.  Then we have to keep the log available in case someone from the Food Bank or the USDA ever wants to see it.  And we’ll do this every year.
I hope everybody can stay inside today.  If you’re someone who likes to play in the snow, bundle up.
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December 27, 2017

Good afternoon, everybody – On Wednesday morning we served a total of 30 families, including 44 adults, 46 children and 11 seniors.  In the evening we served another 5 families with 10 adults and 9 children, for a total of 35 families, 54 adults, 55 children and 11 seniors.  We averaged 32 families a month in December and in 2017 we averaged 30 families a month.

This is the final e-mail of 2017.  When I looked back at the final e-mail of 2016 I saw that the same woman who brought us tamales and atole this year fed us last year as well.  And everybody hugged each other and wished each other a happy new year.
The final e-mail of 2015 showed that we were excited about beginning to order food for the pantry from Stop & Shop’s Pea Pod delivery service, which we’ve used steadily for two years now.  At this point we also regularly receive milk donated from Westchester Milk and food donated from Springhurst’s lunch program, so we have  multiple organizations who keep us regularly supplied with food for our clients.
The 2015 e-mail showed that we were also excited because we were applying to the Church of St. Barnabas in Irvington for a grant following their clothing sale.  St. Barnabas has helped us for years now, and hopefully we can continue to rely on St. Barnabas and all the other churches and synagogues in the Rivertowns to help us purchase the food that we need to continue to provide our clients with what they need on a weekly basis throughout 2018.
We also rely on the people on this list, who are our steady supporters and who have followed us since the beginning.  Thanks to all of you for dropping food off to us and sending checks and donating to us through the website.  Hopefully we’ll keep on keeping on for years to come, until nobody needs a food pantry anymore.  Then we’ll gladly go out of business!
I hope everybody has a calm and peaceful new year’s and a fulfilling 2018.
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Lyn eating a Christmas tamal brought by one of our clients

lyn eating a tamal

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December 20, 2017

Good evening, everybody – today we served a total of 44 families, including 72 adults, 53 children and 13 seniors.  We gave out gift cards, decorative tote bags and festive candy canes.

A neighbor of mine is replacing her kitchen appliances and asked me if anybody at the pantry could use the ones she was getting rid of.  I asked today, and now one of our pantry clients is getting a stove, one is getting a refrigerator and one is getting a dishwasher!
We were contacted by the cousin of two sisters in Ardsley who are ill and disabled and need food.  Two of our volunteers – Tom and Tricia – were quick to offer to take food to them, and they have done so.  Our pantry has some of the most generous volunteers around, and we’ll be happy to help these women as long as necessary.
It brings home to me the importance of family members.  We learned about these women through their cousin.  We’ve also been bringing food to an elderly couple in Dobbs Ferry because their nephew called us.  However we learn about people in need, we’re glad to help.
Speaking of being helped, we received a wonderful check from the Presbyterian Women’s Association of the Irvington Presbyterian Church.  This was part of the proceeds from their huge and famous attic sale in the fall.  Irvington Presbyterian has been helping us for years, particularly the Presbyterian Women, and we love them for it.
Today, as a Christmas celebration, one of our clients brought sweet tamales and atole (a fruit-flavored drink) for everybody.  She brought enough for all of us volunteers plus all the clients, and everything was consumed before she left.  She’s a woman who loves to cook, and it shows.  We took a picture of Lyn biting into one of the tamales, and I’ll put it up on the website.
Happy Hanukkah and merry Christmas, everyone.


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December 14, 2017

Good evening, everyone – I wasn’t at the pantry yesterday, but the other volunteers soldiered on.  They served a total of 25 families, including 37 adults, 27 children and 9 seniors.

Ever since Paul Feiner suggested that we put a bin at Greenburgh Town Hall so that people could donate food, I’ve been checking regularly to pick up whatever anybody has donated.  For the last couple of weeks the bin has been overflowing.  A few days ago I loaded the back of my car with a huge assortment of food, which I’ll deliver to the pantry next Wednesday.
There are also two bins at Greenburgh Town Hall for food being collected for Puerto Rico.  Those bins are full, too, but they won’t be able to ship the canned goods to Puerto Rico because they’re too heavy, so all the cans were also donated to us.  So, nothing goes to waste.
Yesterday, instead of being at the pantry, I attended a meeting of the Association of Development Officers.  I went because Eric Nodiff of the Giving Circle of Lower Westchester sent an e-mail around, suggesting that food pantries who have received grants from the Giving Circle might be interested in this group.  Their brochure says they are the “resource for fundraisers in the Hudson Valley”.  They were a warm and welcoming group, although most of them are actually employed as fundraisers, not volunteers.  There were people there from the Alzheimer’s Association, the YMCA, Montefiore Hospital, and so on.  I felt kind of out of place, but they made me feel welcome.
And what they had to say reflected what we volunteers at the pantry do – raise funds for our organization.  Yesterday’s presentation had to do with being authentic and forming a relationship with donors.  In the back of my mind throughout the speech was the image of Linda Herring, the volunteer who writes every thank-you letter and e-mail that we send – and we send a lot of thank-you’s.  She always tries to mention something in particular about the person’s or the organization’s donation – and that was exactly what these presenters were emphasizing.  Linda works hard at this, and we appreciate, and NEED, everything she does.  Thank you and thank you again, Linda.
Next Wednesday we’ll be giving out Stop & Shop gift cards, decorative tote bags and candy canes to the pantry clients.  Then the following Wednesday we’ll go back to normal.  The holidays have been an exciting ride.  Whew!
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December 6, 2017

Hello, everybody – today we served a total of 22 families, including 34 adults, 27 children and 7 seniors.

December 15 will be a big day for us.  In the afternoon we’ll be receiving a donation of food collected by the 5th-through-8th-grade classes at the Masters School.  They’ll just carry it right down Clinton Avenue, into the church and up the stairs to our storage area.  It will be much easier for the students to do it than us volunteers with our bad backs, shoulders, etc.  Then, in the evening, the South Church Youth Group will come and sort all the food for us (with us supervising, of course) and carry down as much as possible to put on the shelves, ready for the next pantry day.  The Masters students and the Youth Group will make life much easier for us volunteers.
In January we’ll be visited by the Food Bank for Westchester.  Since we’re affiliated with them, they come to inspect our facilities every eighteen months.  They want to make sure the refrigerators and freezer are cold enough, food is stored at least six inches off the floor, etc.  We’re proud of how we maintain the pantry, so we’re looking forward to it.
Over the last two weeks we’ve received donated food from Woodlands Community Temple in Greenburgh.  A wonderful woman named Val drove it over in her car.  Woodlands is a temple that is very concerned about the wellbeing of the community, and they have a finger in many pies.  Rabbi Billy Dreskin is the heart and soul of that temple, which is why it’s so caring and committed.
Sometimes the holidays can be stressful.  Try and relax.  Breathe.  (Am I talking to myself??)
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December 1, 2017

Good morning, everyone – Wednesday in the morning we served a total of 24 families, including 35 adults, 29 children and 10 seniors.  In the evening Benny, Andrew and I served another 12 families with 27 adults, 20 children and 3 seniors.  This brought us to a total for the day of 36 families with 62 adults, 49 children and 13 seniors.  We averaged 34 families a week in November.

We were able to give out frozen hams to three clients who came in the evening, thanks to the Hudson Social food drive.  We’ll stay in touch with Hudson Social, and maybe this can happen again.
While we were in the middle of giving out food at the pantry, two employees from Cabrini Nursing Home arrived with a huge amount of food for us, which they patiently carried upstairs to the office we use for storage.  They had to make two trips, plus they brought a huge case of toilet paper, much of which has already been given out.  And they delivered an envelope full of cash and gift cards.  The employees of Cabrini deserve a collective hug.  We can, and will, use everything they’ve sent us.
That office upstairs is getting crowded with the food that’s been donated.  This happens during the holidays, then we draw on the food for months afterwards.  The South Church youth group will be helping us to sort the food.  The real organizers, though, are Carol and Eileen.  A hug to both of you – or maybe a fist bump, since it’s flu season.
Two of the four mothers for whom I picked up diapers in Yonkers in November brought me applications they had filled out for December, which I scanned and e-mailed to Wendy Armstrong, the director of the program.  Those mothers will go on their own to the Department of Social Services in Yonkers on December 16 to pick up their diapers and fill out an application for the next month.  Then they’ll be on their own and I’ll be out of the picture.  The other two mothers had forgotten their applications but said they’d go to Yonkers themselves to fill out and submit the forms.  I’m so glad the Junior League came up with this program in conjunction with Social Services.
We’ll be giving out Stop & Shop gift cards to our clients again for Christmas, together with decorated tote bags and candy canes or something.  Then everything will quiet down in January.  Don’t forget to keep those donations – both financial and edible – coming after the first of the year.
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