HASTINGS-IN-HUDSON, N.Y. -- When Pam Koner learned of a food pantry at the James Harmon Community Center in Hastings-on-Hudson in 2010, it sparked her interest and lead to the founding of Family-to-Family, which helps provide food assistance to those in need.
Locally, Koner and her group established Kids Can a canned food drive every other month done in both Dobbs Gerry's Springhurst and Hastings' Hillside schools. The collected food helps stock the shelves of the South Presbyterian Church’s food pantry and the Hastings Community Center’s food pantry.
"I received a note from a local resident that the food pantry -- who even knew that we had one -- in Hastings, a closet really housed in the Community Center and kept open by the Youth Advocate," Koner said. 'It was being accessed by local residents and was struggling to meet the communities needs. Since Family-to-Family was headquartered here, it seemed like a natural for us to rally the community and start an F-to-F receiving community here."
Family-to-Family provides families with a week’s worth of groceries each month provided for by local families who are willing and able to “share their bounty”. Each month families drop off their boxes of food or a gift card to Hastings A&P or Dobbs Ferry Stop and Shop.
"Working with Springhurst's Debra Borwick and Hastings Youth Advocate Donny Waterhous, the F-to-F volunteers get much needed groceries into the homes of our communities most needy," Koner said. "From what we have heard, the food is a life saver at the end of the month when SNAP (Food Stamps) benefits are used and the pantries' shelves are somewhat scant."
Family-to-Family's community’s families and kids are also involved with “giving projects”. The group has 60 donor families helping 45 local families each month, 10 local volunteers and employees working on the program, and the teacher and student bodies of Springhurst and Hillside school in its Kids Can drives.
Koner said families are contributing anonymously, which is not the typical model.
"We usually link donors to receiving families at a distance so they can connect and write each other and share a bit," she said. "But here the proximity to each other requires anonymity. The receiving families are extremely grateful and touched by the "kindness of a neighbor". What's so lovely is the care and generosity our donors demonstrate. They might include a specially baked holiday cake, or Halloween candy or a gift for the kids in the family."