We lucked out again today – no rain and perfect temperatures, is this November?
We continue to enjoy the support of many of our community organizations. This week and the next there is an uptick in donations all due to anticipating the coming holiday. Who doesn’t get excited about Thanksgiving? Stop & Shop has partnered with Feeding Westchester and the county’s Bee Line to “Fill a Bus” with goods for the pantry to give out, centering donations around Turkey Day. Christian Preschool director, Barbara Bayer-Mertens is rallying her families to make a donation the Monday before. Volunteer Roubi Elipoulos is heading up a pie drive with the Masters School and several Girl Scout troops.
A shout out to our online donors; the ability to have good cash flow to purchase the necessities for our neighbors is critical. It gives us the flexibility to make purchases that round out what is donated in goods. Thank you all and to those who are sustaining contributors a huge round of applause!
We get some interesting items from time to time, and when we can offer a grouping of them we set up a specialty table. This week we featured a pet supply table for the furry friends of the pantry.
Need to get out and forget about cooking? November 18th, the Cookery in Dobbs is donating 15% of their profits to the Pantry. Make your reservation early – they have outdoor heated tables and if the weather holds like today, it’ll be a perfect setting for enjoying their amazing food!
MOST NEEDED ITEMS: Size 6 diapers, baby wipes, tomato sauce in plastic jars, canned fruit
This week’s newsletter written by the Pantry’s fearless leader, Vera Halpenny.
The lede of this week’s edition of the Food Pantry Newsletter is devoted to those of you who faithfully support our efforts with cash donations rather than food or other necessities. So we thought we’d give you an idea of how we stretch the currency we get.
Our monthly cash burn is roughly equal to the monthly cash donations we receive. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Most of that goes to buying food. For everything else, we buy only what we can’t make ourselves. We are very good at finding cost-efficient ways to maintain safety and efficiency.
With the talented group of volunteers we have, I’ve always marveled at how often one of our volunteers frequently comes up with a relatively simple and low-cost solution to a difficult and potentially costly problem that comes our way.
An example. We use a lot of what’s referred to as beach or camper wagons to help move food donations and deliveries. These carts average about $125 each and we have 10 of them. They have, however, a critical flaw that cannot be fixed – or so we thought. The handles are supposed to lock in an upright position until you pull on them. But due to poor material design the piece that holds the handle in place wears away in time, causing the handle to fall forward unassisted and creating a serious tripping hazard for volunteers and clients.
No sooner had our crazed Minister of Maintenance planned to attack the first of four such afflicted wagons with a die grinder, volunteer Bill Constant realized it wouldn’t work. What would work, Bill said, was simply attaching matching pairs of high-strength Velcro to the two mating parts. Bingo!
So, the winner of this year’s FP Department of Engineering “Rusty Bolt Award” goes to volunteer Bill, who came up with, literally, a $10 solution to a potential $1,250 replacement problem. That’s more donor dollars saved for higher and better use.
Third Annual Stuff-a-Bus
Stop & Shop and Bee Line/Westchester County Gov will be hosting their 3rd Annual Stuff-a-Bus Food Drive for Feeding Westchester. Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry has been paired with our local Stop & Shop, which will hold a collection tote for food donations from November 5th – November 11th.
As readers of this Newsletter already know, Stop & Shop’s manager, Jim, has been a strong – and patient – supporter of the FP, and we are always grateful to him and his staff for their generous assistance.
Valerie and Carmita of Dobbs Ferry Girl Scout Troop 1682 dropped of a considerable haul from their Diaper Drive in support of our littlest clients. The Troop is also involved in planning for the FP’s Thanksgiving event on Nov. 24th.
Finally, we find ourselves running short of Fresh Direct bags, one of our most important means of delivering to those clients who cannot reach the pantry due to illness or the need to care for young children at home. We’d be grateful for whatever you can leave for us at the donation box to the left of the South Presbyterian Church annex entrance.
This week’s newsletter written by the crazed Minister of Maintenance himself, Duke Coffey, without whom the church would be a pile of rubble.
We had a very welcome visit from Mayor Vincent Rossillo today! We were happy to be able to give him a tour of our operations and let him know what we need from the Village. He was surprised to hear how much we’ve grown in just the last 18 months and promised to help where he can.
We’ve seen lots of creative ways that the community has found to give to the Pantry over the years and I thought I’d share a Top Ten List with you. Feel free to copy any of the below or maybe this will spark a new idea of your own!
One neighbor posted on Facebook that all she wanted for her big 65th birthday was donations of diapers for the Pantry. She received Amazon deliveries from around the country for weeks!
Last year my daughter and her friend put flyers in all of our neighbors’ mailboxes asking for food donations to be left on our porch for the next week. Then the two girls brought all of their haul to the Pantry for delivery.
When we were in need of grocery carts for the clients to be able to transport their bags of food from the Pantry to their homes, the local condo community, The Landing, held a fundraiser with their residents and donated $2,500 to the Pantry to be used for purchasing the carts.
One young philanthropist harvested all of the veggies from his parents’ backyard garden and held his own farm stand on his corner. He brought us his revenue in a Ziploc baggie, pennies and all.
We had one very generous donor ask his friend who owns Scaramella’s Restaurant to prepare packaged meals for 150 people which were then distributed to our clients. This donor picked up the whole tab!
There are several anonymous donors who set up monthly Amazon subscriptions of diapers, baby wipes, and/or canned goods that are delivered to my house to be brought to the Pantry. If you are interested in doing the same, reach out and I’ll give you my mailing address (please don’t mail anything to the church).
Various clubs and churches hold monthly food drives and deliver their bounty to us. Do you belong to any organization who might like to do the same?
One team from the weekly Quiz Night at Pete’s Saloon in Elmsford used their winnings to buy 150 meals for our clients.
Just this morning one mom came by the Pantry because she had over-purchased for her son’s birthday party. She left us with dozens of unopened bags of cookies and snacks.
And of course, hitting the Donate button on our website gives us the most flexibility in serving our neighbors (make it a recurring monthly donation!). But please check with your employer to see if they might offer Corporate Donation Matching to double your money.
We served 114 families today which translates to 402 people in need. That’s about four times the number of people who came to the Pantry pre-pandemic. As things in the world start to slowly get back to “normal”, please remember that for so many, it will take a much longer time to catch up to where they were before COVID took its toll on the economy.
Most needed items this week: canned tomato sauce, no-sugar peanut butter (in plastic), canned beans, dried beans (1 lb bags)
This week’s newsletter was written by the amazing Pantry Co-Director extraordinaire, Gretchen Skaggs. She also wrote this byline.
Several years ago Paul Feiner, the Greenburgh Town Supervisor, invited the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry to give a presentation at a Greenburgh Town Board meeting. Benny Rodriguez, Marc Taiano and I spoke about the service the Pantry provides to the community. After our talks, Mr. Feiner rose and spoke the following words, which I have always greatly appreciated:
“The Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry is my favorite charity because every penny donated goes to the people who are in need. It is run entirely by volunteers and no one receives a salary.”
Today, those volunteers served 131 families, including 40 deliveries, for a total of 478 people. We distributed boxes of shelf stable food, bags of fresh vegetables, fruit, milk, cereals, dairy products from Mom’s Organics, and baked goods from Panera, NY Bagel Authority and The Shop. This is all made possible by the generous donations from our community churches, organizations and businesses as well as from individuals.
We are having a fundraiser at The Bit restaurant on Cedar Street on Thursday, October 21. After 5 PM a percentage of the bill (dine in or out) will be given to the DFFP. Please come or order out after 5 PM.
“You cannot do a kindness too soon because you never know how soon it will be too late.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
This week’s newsletter written by one of the first friendly faces you see at The Pantry, Mary Anne Griggs, longtime Pantry volunteer.
Hello neighbors! We’re so proud to be part of a community that supports one another. Here at the Pantry, volunteers show up every day to organize a wide range of tasks including pick-ups, deliveries, and donations. This week, we’ve distributed food and other resources to help over 450 people (families, new clients, and home deliveries).
October marks our 10th year of the Dobbs Ferry food pantry! Please join us on Sunday, October 17th at 10:00 a.m. at South Presbyterian Church for a special celebration in Fellowship Hall. We’re so grateful to Stop & Shop, MOM’S Organic Market, Panera, The Shop in Ardsley, and New York Bagel Authority for their generous support. We also want to thank Girl Scout Troop 2165 from Dobbs who helped put away deliveries and recycle cardboard this week. Now more than ever, it’s vital that we take care of each other.
How can you help? Have you checked out The Bit’s new menu? Be sure to stop in Thursday, October 21st starting at 5:00 p.m. 15% of all orders will go to the Dobbs Ferry Pantry (take-out too). Additionally, we have a bin for non-perishable donations to the left of the South Church’s double church doors with the mail slot.
Items most needed this week: Peanut butter (no glass!), diapers (size 6), wipes, and Stop & Shop gift cards.
“No act of kindness no matter how small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop
This week’s newsletter written by our Mom’s Organics table host, Alisha Neumaier, who inspires even the most rabid carnivore to beg her for fair trade, organic, environmentally grown quinoa.
To help feed our neighbors—this week we provided food to 467 people, including our monthly evening hours—we rely on donations of food and money, volunteers devoted to helping others, and the support of Feeding Westchester.
This food bank sources and distributes food and other resources to 225 food pantries, soup kitchens, schools, shelters, residential programs, and mobile food distributions in the county. Feeding Westchester is a member of Feeding America, a nonprofit network of 200 food banks in the U.S. and the largest domestic hunger-relief organization.
Karen Erren is president and CEO of Feeding Westchester. To find out more about the people facing hunger in our county, we interviewed Karen by email. Her answers have been edited for brevity.
Q. How many people need food from Feeding Westchester and its community partners? Prior to COVID-19 our network of community partners and programs served 125,000 to 150,000 people a month. During the height of the pandemic, however, that number more than doubled. Currently, we are still serving nearly 225,000 neighbors each month on average.
Q. Those numbers are surprising. What’s going on? One thing I’ve learned being a food banker for more than 15 years is that our neighbors who are hungry are just like you, me, any of us. They are hard working, they are parents, seniors who worked their whole lives, and they simply may not have the family network or safety net that so many of us have. And the cost of living in Westchester is high, well above the national average. We see individuals and families with income levels of $15,000 a year, $30,000 a year—significantly below the county’s median household income of just over $96,000. Those incomes are impossible to live on, let alone thrive on.
Q. How do Feeding Westchester programs address people of all ages? While our primary goal is to get nutritious food to anyone who needs it, we do create and adapt our feeding programs for various groups. Nearly 1 in 6 children in Westchester face hunger. With our community partners, meal programs, and direct distributions, we ensure that kids are able to get the nutritious food they need through our child- feeding programs: breakfast and lunch bags, school pantries, school distributions, or direct deliveries. Our senior grocery program encourages better health and promotes independent living for our seniors and neighbors with disabilities, providing nutritious food directly to them where they live. These are just a few of the many ways we work collaboratively to ensure that all of our neighbors have food in a way that is accessible for them.
Q. Will there ever be a time when food pantries are no longer needed in Westchester, and what does it take to get us there? I hope there is a time where our services are less needed, or frankly not at all, but there is still much work to be done. While getting as much food on as many tables as possible, for any of our neighbors who need it, is still our primary goal, we are asking how we can do that better. What gaps exist? How can we provide more culturally relevant food to our diverse populations? How can we collaborate with more local anti-poverty organizations to ensure that our neighbors in need have access to the help they need? For now, we remain where we have been for the last 33 years—at the forefront of hunger relief for Westchester.
A Million Thanks!
The Scarsdale Woman’s Club, with members from over two- dozen communities in Westchester and Rockland counties, has long supported our pantry by regularly hosting food drives.
These ninth graders, members of Girl Scout troop 1688 in Dobbs Ferry, held a food drive for the Pantry at Stop & Shop, collecting a carload of food and diapers.
What makes a community? We see it every week at the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry. Our amazing volunteers take pride in arranging each table with love, wanting our clients to feel like they are at a farmers market. The bonds are strong between the volunteers and this community in need. They know the volunteers by name and continually thank us with “God Bless You”. But we’ve already been blessed by knowing this beautiful, gracious community that just needs a helping hand.
Hudson Social rocked the Pantry this week! On Tuesday 9/21, Hudson Social donated 15% of their profits to the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry. The food was amazing, the drinks were delicious and the company was wonderful…all for a fantastic cause! The Bit is up next on Thursday 10/21, also donating 15% of profits to the Pantry. Have some fun and please make a reservation at The Bit for you and your friends. We are looking forward to engaging all our local restaurants to participate throughout the year.
How are you celebrating your birthday this year?
Harry Greenberg set a great example! Through the Share Your Wish Foundation, 4-year-old Harry’s birthday wish was to make a charitable donation to the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry. With the help of his friends, Harry contributed $85.68! Well, it’s not just for 4-year-olds. Instead of birthday gifts for her 65th this year, Deborah Fantone asked her friends via social media to send diapers for the Pantry. Before long she was inundated with boxes of diapers from around the country! These examples of selflessness and generosity are amazing!
Today our numbers were up over recent weeks – we served 126 families, with 38 deliveries and in-person pickups for 88 households, most of them seemingly in a very busy first half hour. Our enthusiastic and energetic teens were back in the classroom, which left us older volunteers to do more shlepping and our families themselves pitching in.
This week we received two grants, both very welcome. We were awarded $3000 from Giving Circle of Lower Westchester, a volunteer, grassroots not-for-profit organization whose member donations go directly to fund hunger relief; the grant will cover some of the costs of reconfiguring our operation so that South Presbyterian Church could resume in-person services. In the 15 months that worship was virtual-only, the Pantry had come to rely on the sanctuary, and we purchased shelving, tables, and screens so as to move off the pews and into other spaces. The second generous grant came from The Peluso Family Foundation.
With the start of school came the return of bounty from the Dobbs Ferry schools: fresh produce from the Springhurst garden, packaged single-serve cafeteria leftovers, and the results from a food drive at the end of the last school year that finally found their way to us! And Stop & Shop donated eight cases of food.
She’s back! Today our families welcomed the return of volunteer extraordinaire Ellen Flaks, back from a paying gig at a summer camp to oversee her table of fabulous freebies. Over time, Ellen has come to know who likes what and has it ready, along with a cheery greeting, as they approach. It’s no accident that the Freebie table is such a big draw that we’ve made it the last stop on the circuit.
Dine Out for a Cause. Now, coming from Louisiana I don’t need an excuse to pick up a Shrimp Po’ Boy from Hudson Social. But in case y’all do, you should know that next Tuesday, September 21, Hudson Social (in the old train station) will donate 15% to the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. Eat in or take out. I know someone who plans to stop in for breakfast and return for dinner. I plan to take my po’ boy to the park for lunch. I’m pretty sure there’s something on the menu for you.
Looking ahead, we plan similar fundraising partnerships with one local restaurant a month. Next up on October 21st: The Bit (formerly The Rare Bit).
What we need most: size 5 & 6 diapers, adult diapers, canned fruits.
This week we treated the 98 families we fed to a gourmet tasting prepared by our newest volunteer, Stephanie “Chefanie” Wright.
Stephanie is a nutrition-focused Ayurvedic chef, founder of The Wright Methods and former Chef de Cuisine of the Assemblage.
Here’s what Stephanie had to say about her experience at the Pantry –
“We had the privilege of sharing a taste of summer this week with a sampling of grilled peaches with mint. Peaches are coming into their prime this time of year and we wanted to show how to make the most of seasonal flavors in an interesting way by grilling up the sweet stone fruit with some cinnamon and mint. The cinnamon helps the body process and digest the natural sugars of the fruit to reduce potential insulin spikes that can be caused by eating sugars and the mint provides a fresh, cooling taste to balance the smokiness of the grill. You can try the grilled peaches out for yourself by following the recipe below:
Ingredients: Serves 4
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 ripe peaches, halved and pitted and sliced into quarters
1 tablespoon ghee, divided
Mint leaves, for garnish
1 lime, juiced
Place the sliced peaches into a large bowl and add the cinnamon to allow the spice to combine with the natural sugars of the peach
Heat grill to high. Place a seasoned cast iron pan onto the grill and add a teaspoon of ghee for each peach that you are grilling.
Grill each peach for up to a minute or until the peach starts turning golden brown
Remove from heat to let cool and garnish with mint leaves and lime juice
“I had so much fun facilitating the grilled peaches tasting at the food bank yesterday! Thank you so much for allowing me to experiment and giving me a platform to share what I love to do”
We here at the Pantry are always looking for ways to continue to feed our community with dignity and respect. We hope that small touches like tablecloths and tastings will make it feel more like a farmers market than a food bank. Thank you, Chefanie, for helping us toward that goal!
Most needed items this week: dried beans (1 lb bags), size 6 diapers, canned fruit, adult diapers.
This week’s newsletter written mostly by Stephanie with a little Gretchen thrown in.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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.