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Community Food Pantry Raises More Than $35,000

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October 28, 2021

By Barrett Seaman—

For the first time in the dozen years it has existed, the Community Food Pantry of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown held a fundraiser — an open bar event on Sunday at the Kathryn W. Davis RiverWalk Center at the entrance to Sleepy Hollow’s Kingsland Point Park. Scores of local residents paid $50-apiece and contributed more on top of that, surpassing expectations by raising $35,694 — enough to supply two months worth of meals to more than 500 families.

It was a much-needed financial shot in the arm, as 2021 has been a tough year for the food pantry. The balance of supply and demand — in this case, the supply of donations of both food and financial support and the rising needs of food-insecure families in the two villages — was upended by COVID-19.

For the first year of the pandemic, donations kept up with demand. Beginning last March, however, when the sense of crisis began to ease, dollar donations fell off while the numbers of those in need continued to grow. At the same time, the pantry’s traditional food wholesalers were facing their own supply constraints.

Individuals stepped up, leaving meals on the front porch of Food Pantry President Rachelle Gebler, but it wasn’t enough. The 275 families for which the pantry had been supplying meals each month expanded to about 1,000 families requiring food twice-a-month, with costs growing from $6,000 to $45,000.

The food sourcing improved after first grocer DeCicco & Sons and then Kendal on Hudson each used their own wholesalers to donate a month’s worth of meals, filling a gap until the pantry was able to line up a wholesaler directly. But the needs of the food insecure in the two villages only continue to grow. As Beth Zolkind, the Community Food Pantry’s treasurer, was quoted in a recent newsletter as saying, “We’ve learned from prior economic contractions that the population we serve sees improved circumstances only at the tail end of a recovery.”

Community Food Pantry leadership (Barrett Seaman/The Hudson Independent)

The success of Sunday’s fundraiser notwithstanding, the Food Pantry is still in need of donations, hoping to return its frequency of delivery back from once to twice a month. As Rachelle Gebler reminded guests, “Many of these people are only a car payment or an ER visit away from falling into a financial hole.”

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