Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry: Helping Those in Need

The+nave+of+South+Presbyterian+Church%2C+the+pews+of+which+are+filled+with+food+that+will+be+received+by+the+patrons+of+the+Dobbs+Ferry+Food+Pantry.

Lance Leys

The nave of South Presbyterian Church, the pews of which are filled with food that will be received by the patrons of the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry.

Lance Leys, Accountability and Accuracy Manager; Associate Producer, Tower Broadcast News

This story was originally published in Tower’s print issue, published on October 31, 2020. 

If you would like to make a donation to the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry click here

Last week, the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry served nearly 100 Rivertowns families, more than triple the number of people serviced during the times prior to the Covid-19 pandemic. Over the summer, a peak of 130 families per week relied on the Pantry for food.

 Molly Rodriguez, director of the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry, said, “Covid-19 has been a tough time, both for members of the Rivertowns community and us at the food pantry. We try our best to offer as many options as possible, but it’s difficult for us now considering both the expenses and the safety of everyone.”

The food pantry was founded in 2011 as a function of South Presbyterian Church, located right across from Clinton Ave. This doesn’t mean that it is only limited to those who go to the Church. 

“We’ve been having people from throughout the Rivertowns come to volunteer because they want to help their community,” Rodriguez said.

Every Wednesday, the pantry is set up for patrons to come and take whatever food they need for the week. But now, changes have been made to prioritize the safety of all, from the recipients to the volunteers. The pantry had to be partially brought outdoors, and most of the stock now has to be held in the church’s pews to enable proper social distancing. Prepackaged food and produce is provided by a variety of sources, including The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry and Roots and Wings, the sustainable living initiative of South Church that aims to provide home-grown food to the community, as well as the ability to grow your own food. More information on Roots and Wings is available on rootsandwingswestchester.blogspot.com

“We try to give people as many food options as possible,” Rodriguez said . “But that isn’t really safe right now.”

 Rodriguez said the pantry has taken to providing $20 Stop and Shop gift cards to patrons each month, who can then go buy the food they and their families need. The pantry pays for the gift cards with financial donations that are accepted on their website, dobbsferrypantry.org.

Food deliveries have also become more common in the recent months, and are projected to increase as the weather gets colder. “Winter’s going to be a tough time for us, and any help during that time will be appreciated, ” Rodriguez said. Any inquiries about volunteering can be answered on their website.

Cheryl Hajjar, Chair of the Visual Arts Department and close friend of Rodriguez, has a similar connection to advocating for the disenfranchised of the New York area. She has done work for Midnight Run, an organization dedicated to fostering a welcoming environment in New York City, with a focus on acceptance of people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. “If we’re serving soup someday to the homeless, and a businessman sees us and asks for some soup, we serve it to him.” said Hajjar. “Food should be for everyone.”

Hajjar also went to South Presbyterian Church for a number of years, through which she came to be a member of Midnight Run. In fact, the number of charitable organizations connected to them was part of the appeal for her family. “From the moment that I set foot into South, I could see that the community there was about ‘walking the walk’ rather than just ‘talking the talk,’” she said.