By Rick Pezzullo—
Two weeks before Thanksgiving, 410 families received a robust bag of groceries and a $20 gift certificate to buy a turkey or ham at the local C-Town Supermarket from the Community Food Pantry at The Christ Church in Tarrytown.
Since Dec. 2009, the largest food pantry in the area has been an invaluable resource for residents in Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown experiencing food insecurity.
“The number of people that we serve need our help,” said Janice Landrum, president of the Community Food Pantry. “We’re not anticipating it will ever go down.”
About 450 families turn out for the monthly distribution at the pantry. Twenty-two homebound seniors, mostly bed-ridden by illness, are also clients. During the height of the COVID pandemic, when distribution was held twice a month, Landrum said a record 750 families were served. The majority of clients are Spanish speaking.
“People don’t want to admit they need it until they’re desperate,” Landrum said. “The people that were at the bottom economically during COVID are still digging out of the hole and inflation is hurting them.”
For example, Landrum noted the cost of a Thanksgiving meal is up 25% since 2019.
The food at the pantry is provided by Feeding Westchester and purchased from a commercial and vegetable distributor. Running the pantry costs about $20,000 a month, which comes from donations and grants.
Landrum said the pantry can currently only afford to offer a monthly distribution but would certainly expand it if fundraising increased.
“We’re doing what we can to get more money,” Landrum said. “Fundraising is a huge job for us. Donations were extremely generous during COVID. Financially we would be hard pressed to serve more.”
The United States Department of Agriculture (U.S.D.A.) now requires the pantry to register each client, although no names or addresses are disclosed. Clients also have to provide proof of household income, but Landrum said no families have been turned away.
In New York State, the income level for assistance is less than $44,000 for a household of two and $67,000 for a household of four.
The Community Food Pantry, located downstairs from the parish hall of The Christ Church at the corner of Elizabeth and John St., has about 200 active volunteers on call to help.
The distribution for the December holidays will be held on Thursday, Dec. 14 from 8 to 10:30 a.m. and 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Landrum said they’re hoping to duplicate what they were able to give out in November.
“It will all depend on how generous people will be,” she said.
Anyone interested in making a donation can find the link on the website: www.communityfoodpantryshtt.org.
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