At Putnam’s Countywide Food Drive held on Saturday, May 16, the eight locations collectively received about 25,000 pounds of donations as well as several thousand dollars in monetary donations and gift cards. This event was a collaboration between the United Way of Westchester and Putnam, Putnam County’s Department of Health, and all the municipalities in the county. This drive was to help restock the local food pantries, so they can better meet the needs of their communities. While the donations from each location stayed in that community, by holding the event in every community in Putnam County at the same time, the event was able to spread the goodwill throughout the entire county.
“We organized the drive because the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency has caused a two-fold problem for the local food pantries,” said United Way of Westchester and Putnam CEO and President Tom Gabriel. “First, they are experiencing a massive increase in need, with some food pantries seeing their number of clients increase by 100%. Second, the food shortages that are being experienced in the supermarkets are nothing as compared to what the food banks are enduring. Staples such as cereals, peanut butter and jelly, and tomato sauce are currently unavailable for the local pantries to purchase through the food bank.”
The food pantries that benefitted from the drive were: Brewster Community Food Pantry, Gilead Food Pantry, Hillside Food Outreach, Patterson Presbyterian Food Pantry, Philipstown Food Pantry, Putnam CAP’s Food Pantry, Putnam Valley Community Food Pantry, and St. John’s Food Pantry in Mahopac.
The directors of the food pantries were pleased with the results.
“St. John’s Food Pantry is very grateful for organizing this extremely helpful food collection,” Nancy Gagne, the director of the St. John’s Food Pantry, said. “Food insecurity is an increasing problem in our community under normal conditions, but now the issue is dire. We thank everyone involved for their support of our efforts.”
The success of this event would not have been possible without the more than 70 volunteers we had working throughout the locations and the Knights of Columbus from Mahopac, Carmel, and Cold Spring.