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Mamaroneck Daily Voice serves Larchmont & Mamaroneck

Letter to The Editor: The Food Pantry Gives Thanks

LARCHMONT, N.Y. -- Melinda Lehman is the president of the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Hunger Task Force, also known as The Food Pantry. After a busy holiday season, she wanted to thank those who gave their time and effort to helping those in need.

To the Editor, Daily Larchmont and Daily Mamaroneck,As president of the Larchmont Mamaroneck Hunger Task Force (aka: The Food Pantry) I am in a unique position to witness the incredible generosity of our community. After an especially busy holiday season, I would like to thank all of you who have helped the Food Pantry by volunteering, donating food or making a contribution. The Food Pantry typically gives out about 350 bags of groceries each time we are open. This year we fed a record 450 needy or homebound families for Thanksgiving and another 400 for Christmas, all of whom reside in Larchmont or Mamaroneck. Given that we have no employees and rely 100 percent on volunteers, I wanted to share how we move this staggering amount of food.Tuesday mornings an energetic crew unloads three truckloads of bread, eggs, milk, cheese, pasta, tuna, rice, canned beans, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta sauce, peanut butter, and fresh fruit and vegetables. This is no easy feat since our home is in the CAP Center basement - groceries are taken off the trucks, brought downstairs and set up to be packed. Another set of volunteers patiently counts and labels hundreds of empty bags. After school, we have two shifts where volunteers pack 350 bags with food. By the end of the evening the entire floor is covered with bags. Tuesday night, and again on Wednesday morning, more loyal volunteers distribute the bags to our local families. They sign them in, give them their bags, offer optional items and carry the bags upstairs for anyone who needs help. Within just 24 hours we typically draw on over 100 volunteers ranging in age from 10 to 80! Some come only once, while others have shown up steadily for years.That is only one part of how our community helps feed our neighbors in need. So many local groups collect food for us. Hundreds of volunteers staffed our Thanksgiving Food Drive in November, which filled a truck with food to help see us through the winter.

Throughout the year our schools, religious institutions and service organizations hold food drives or have permanent food collection bins. A growing number of young children asks friends to bring boxes of cereal instead of presents to their birthday parties. A group of volunteers pick a different item each month to collect for our homebound seniors.  And we are almost entirely funded by our community. Our broad base of local support means that even the smallest donations add up to help us provide a nutritious bag of food to anyone who needs our aid. The question I am asked most often is "how can I help?". I am constantly touched and amazed by how caring and generous our community is. We should all feel grateful to live in such a wonderful place among such giving people. Thank you all for your support!Melinda LehmanPresidentLarchmont-Mamaroneck Hunger Task

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