Top mage in the story

Pitching In

Governments, nonprofits, businesses, schools, food purveyors and individuals from NYC to Warren County join forces to feed the Hudson Valley during the Covid-19 crisis

The Hudson Valley Epicurean, spawned just weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic became a world-changing scourge, was … and still is … dedicated to highlighting the finer things in life. But this being an existential emergency, we feel compelled to use our resources to pitch in at the outset of our long, delicious journey to help our readership survive and persevere through this difficult period. We can celebrate the really good, cream-of-the-crop stuff later, after we’re out of the woods and everybody’s safe, healthy, happy and fully employed again. Meanwhile, government and private initiatives striving to feed vulnerable community members hard-hit by the Covid-19 outbreak are cropping up all over the greater Hudson Valley, and we’re about to tell you in this piece where many of them are and what they’re doing. From the tip of Manhattan to Lake Tear of the Clouds, here’s an annotated listing of what we’ve come up with so far. Obviously there will be many important and worthy initiatives we’ll miss on the first pass, but we’ll try to build on this as time goes on. As the Epicurean was born in Tillson, NY, in beautiful Ulster County, let us start here before moving across, down, and upriver.

Ulster County’s public/private partnership

Project Resilience, launched by Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan in March, partners with municipalities and nonprofits to deliver meals via local distribution teams, helping residents in need while simultaneously providing support to small businesses. Since its inception, more than 13,715 meals produced by 128 participating restaurants have been delivered to nearly 2,000 individuals and households. Sixteen local teams have been established to distribute meals serving 22 municipalities. To implement this ambitious plan, the county secured more than $2 million in initial funding within 24 hours of announcing the project. An additional $100,000 has been raised from grassroots donors in the community through a GoFundMe campaign (https://www.gofundme.com/f/project-resilient). United Way is one of the many area organizations and businesses involved in the effort. Residents in need or looking to help out can visit the online portal at https://covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/project-resilience/ 

 “This is what it looks like when a community comes together,” said Ryan. “We are creating a model for both our state and nation of how to respond to this crisis. I continue to be tremendously impressed by the resiliency and generosity of the people of Ulster County.”

“Project Resilience is a home run,” Woodstock Town Supervisor Bill McKenna said. “County Executive Ryan has put together the best of county government, town government, private business and the generosity of Ulster County residents to benefit those in need.” 

“The Project Resilience Program is a win-win for the community and for businesses,” said Marwan Rzek,  owner of Maria’s Bazaar in Woodstock. “This effort has allowed us to keep our doors open and help our community. I want to thank County Executive Ryan, Supervisor Bill McKenna, and all of the volunteers who are helping to feed our community.”

A list of participating restaurants and businesses can be found at https://covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/participating-businesses

United Way is currently accepting donations and setting a goal of raising $5 million. To donate, request meal delivery or assistance, or to sign up as a participating business or service provider, please visit: https://covid19.ulstercountyny.gov/project-resilience/

Project Resilience is just one of many initiatives happening in Ulster County. Another is Ulster Eateries United, a Facebook group created to help restaurants and food industry professionals promote their offerings and speak up about challenges and struggles. Led by the Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce, the group is a place for restaurants to post about their giving initiatives (for example, Woodnotes Grille at the Emerson Resort is offering free takeout for firefighters, police officers, doctors, nurses, and EMTs). Anyone in Ulster County’s food and hospitality industry looking to lend a hand while social distancing should consult this resource: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1057237917994756/

Smaller programs abound as well. The Kingston Food Co-op recently initiated a GoFundMe page (https://www.gofundme.com/f/feeding-local-families-and-supporting-local-farms) to pay for the purchase of produce from local farms to provide bagged lunches and hot meals to two nonprofit social organizations: Family of Woodstock and the Kingston-based food pantry People’s Place. The fundraising effort succeeded far beyond expectations, doubling the asked-for goal in just seven hours. It’s not over, though. Any additional money donated still contributes to feeding a fast-growing need.

Meanwhile, down in Stone Ridge, Cherries Ice Cream Bar & Grill in is offering free meals to Rondout Valley children every week, Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 3 pm. One can order chicken tenders, grilled cheese, or peanut butter and jelly with French fries or fruit and a juice box or water for the kids, and they don’t have to be present when you pick it up. Call 845-706-2466 or order on-line at https://cherriesstoneridge.com. You can donate to the restaurant’s program via Venmo at @cherriesstoneridge. You can also drop off donations of juice boxes at 4162 Route 209 in Stone Ridge. Call first.

Back in Woodstock, the Good Neighbor Food Pantry, using the Woodstock Reformed Church as a base of operations, is providing a three-day supply of fresh food per person per household, and Woodstock Meals On Wheels is delivering hot meals.  The Table at Woodstock, also using the Woodstock Reformed Church as its base, is offering meal and grocery pickup for Onteora School District residents in front of the church on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., or until the food runs out. Seniors and individuals in self-quarantine qualify for meal delivery. Those in need can contact thetableatwoodstock@gmail.com or message the organization through Facebook. Town of Woodstock residents are encouraged to register via the Town Supervisor’s Office for delivery, grocery boxes, and check-in calls. Volunteers and donations of funds or Hannaford gift cards are needed.

Dutchess County Grassroots Heroes

When Micheal Dipalo bought this car from MAG Auto last week, the auto dealer donated 100 meals to the John Flowers Foundation (Frankie Flowers and Friends) because of his purchase. When anyone buys a car from MAG Auto or North East Ford, those dealerships will give Frankie’s foundation 100 meals to distribute to people in need.

In Dutchess County there are a number of grassroots efforts to feed people in need during this pandemic. One notable example is the work of Frankie Flowers and Friends. Frankie is the son of the legendary Poughkeepsie community icon, the late John Flowers, and has built upon his father’s legacy, bringing it into the social media-savvy post-millennial era. Frankie and his legion of friends and helpers are busy every day, making deals with area restaurants and businesses to support feeding the hungry and posting their daily efforts live on Facebook to build even greater public support. The group does successful things like having a car dealership agree that, for every car they sell, they will pay a participating restaurant to provide 100 free meals to be distributed by Frankie and his volunteer brigades. These efforts are completely grassroots, and supported by volunteer dollars and sweat equity. You can follow Frankie’s story here: https://www.facebook.com/frankie.flowers.71, and you can donate here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/189585065791477/

Down in Wappingers Falls, Mamma Musetti’s is offering free lunches to children in the Hudson Valley. In addition to prepping takeout meals for diners, chef/owner Rosaria Musetti is whipping up her singular pastas and Italian meals for children while they’re out of school. You can donate to the restaurant’s campaign through a community-organized GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/lets-help-our-communities-helping-hand, which aims to support Musetti and her husband as they give back to the community while working to stay afloat.

And in Pleasant Valley, Publick House 23 is offering free bagged lunches from Monday to Friday between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Lunch will include a sandwich, a bag of chips, a squeeze yogurt, and a juice box.

While grassroots initiatives like these are important, Dutchess County government is on the ball as well, through its Dutchess Responds Food Connection, which has established a one-stop connection between food resources in the county and those with a critical need for food and other necessities. The county’s on-line form can be accessed here: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=kZGYpoRlGUK46trZaSU41VR-8n_w-TFGqYjaOlw4aVhUMkg5VUJCVU5TR0E5MkVCUDNKOFc0TkczMSQlQCN0PWcu, or residents can call the county’s Coronavirus Information Line (845-486-3555) and select Option 5.

Other resources in Dutchess County can be perused as follows:

Food Delivery (Paid): https://www.dutchessny.gov/Departments/DBCH/Docs/Food-Delivery-Paid-Resources.pdf

Food Pantries or Meals: https://www.dutchessny.gov/Departments/DBCH/Docs/Food-Pantries-or-Meals-Resources.pdf

Meal Resources for School-Aged Children: https://www.dutchessny.gov/Departments/DBCH/Docs/Meal-Resources-for-School-Aged-Children.pdf

Farm Stores: https://www.dutchessny.gov/Departments/DBCH/Docs/Farm-Stores-Resources.pdf

Other Community Resources: https://www.dutchessny.gov/Departments/DBCH/Docs/Community-Resources.pdf

Putnam County

Nearer to the beginning of the crisis, the United Way of Westchester and Putnam and Putnam County Government had organized for food from the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley to be available for pick-up in the parking lot of Putnam County’s Donald B. Smith Campus at 110 Old Route 6, Carmel, NY 10512. This was a one-day-only event that took place on Thursday, April 2, 2020, from 11 a.m.to 1 p.m. The service was free and no ID or financial information was required. Presumably these institutions will be continuing to provide some sort of service, but a disclaimer recently posted on the program’s website broadcasts that there may be some difficulty achieving further goals: “DUE TO OVERWHELMING DEMAND, WE ARE NOT ABLE TO ACCEPT ANY MORE REQUESTS FOR DELIVERY”. Telephone (914) 997-6700 or e-mail info@uwwp.org for the latest information.

Westchester County and Beyond

Feeding Westchester is the largest provider to food pantries in the lower Hudson Valley region, according to CBS News. In March, the National Guard helped the group distribute a record 1.5 million pounds of food. The organization’s vice president, Matt Honeycutt, said he sees a long road ahead. “For us, this is just the beginning of what we anticipate will be months and months and months of feeding more people than we’ve ever fed before in the county.”

Feeding Westchester is the busiest in Westchester itself, where the group operates drive-thru food drives and mobile food pantries throughout the county, and maintains a list of food pantries. According to the Daily Voice news organization, the group was at the Westchester Community College campus in Valhalla for several hours last week, distributing bags loaded with a variety of food options for Westchester families. Each vehicle that visited the drive-through was provided with a package sufficient to feed a family of four for up to five days. There was minimal personal contact; volunteers would place the groceries in the trunk. 

According to Feeding Westchester, the group has served more than 500 families in need in Westchester alone, distributing more than a million pounds of food since the Covid-19 outbreak began. The organization also operates a number of mobile food pantries that have been setting up shop at designated community centers. Again, if you’re looking for a food pantry in Westchester, go here: https://feedingwestchester.org/find-help/

Also in Westchester, a coalition of chefs led by Eric Korn, the owner of Good-Life Gourmet catering in Irvington, is organizing restaurants to cook a million gallons of soup for regional communities. Known as the Million Gallons operation, the group is raising money through GoFundMe and is partnering with local food pantries to distribute fresh or frozen soup. You can find updates on the Million Gallons website, https://milliongallons.com/. Restaurants can pledge to make anywhere from up to 100 or more gallons of soup, while corporate partners can donate funds. Chefs, including David DiBari of The Cookery and The Parlor, are already cooking furiously, with Hudson Valley purveyors like Sfoglini Pasta Shop (of Brooklyn and Coxsackie) donating ingredients and resources. Restaurants can register at https://milliongallons.com/restaurants/ to help.

Orange County Food Bank increases service

The Cornwall-on-Hudson-based Food Bank of the Hudson Valley – along with its parent organization, the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York – is actively responding to increased emergency food needs resulting from the Covid-19 crisis. The situation is changing daily, but already food pantries, soup kitchens, schools, and other organizations are reaching out for guidance and support. The Food Bank has provided additional food for several of its school BackPack programs to ensure vulnerable children have the food they need now that schools have closed. Some food pantries may close temporarily to protect their elderly volunteer force. In those cases, the Food Bank will either set up special distributions to fill the gaps or provide additional assistance to nearby pantries experiencing an increase in demand.

“We have responded in a positive way to several disasters in the past,” said Mark Quandt, executive director of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. “But this situation is unique. The level of need for emergency food assistance is unknown right now, so we are preparing for the worst.” Still, Quandt said, the Food Bank is committed to meeting the food needs of people who are negatively impacted by this crisis. “We are the only not-for-profit organization in the region that can respond on such a wide scale, and we take that obligation very seriously.”

The Food Bank will need additional financial and volunteer support to meet the increased demand for its services. Contributions can be mailed to the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, 195 Hudson Street, Cornwall-on-Hudson NY 12520, or made online at www.foodbankofhudsonvalley.org. Volunteers can also sign up on that website. Other offers of support, questions, and requests for help can be directed to 845-534-5344 or info@foodbankofhudsonvalley.org.

The Food Bank of the Hudson Valley is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that collects donated food from the food industry and distributes it to 400 charitable agencies feeding more than 117,000 food-insecure people in six counties of the Hudson Valley. Last year, the organization distributed more than 16 million pounds of food. The Food Bank is a member of Feeding America, the national network of food banks, and is supported by foundations, private contributions, and fundraising events.

Also in Orange County, the pop-up event space LODGER, housed at 188 Liberty Street in Newburgh, is preparing and distributing 200 free school lunch replacement meals three days a week, Monday through Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Organization staff is driving deliveries. The group’s efforts are being supported through donations from neighbors and local businesses. Visit LODGER’s Instagram page here: https://www.instagram.com/lodgernewburgh/

Rockland County

Along with Food Bank of the Hudson Valley, Feeding Westchester is the largest provider to food pantries in the suburbs north of New York City, including 40 in Rockland County. The town of Spring Valley in particular has seen a large increase in need from a population reeling from layoffs.  Another organization, Rockland Community Against Hunger (http://www.rocklandhunger.org/), recently converted its Get Fresh Food distribution initiative into a drive-thru. People drove to each station and a volunteer loaded their car with the food. A dozen food pantries and feeding programs spanning from Suffern to Nyack were on the receiving end of the donations.

The Big Apple hangs tough

Due to its immense size, population density, and openness to international travel, New York City is the region hardest hit by this pandemic — in the state, in the nation, and perhaps in the world. To properly log all the grassroots, nonprofit, corporate and government initiatives happening citywide would take a story 10 to 50 times this length. Suffice it to say that in the five boroughs of New York City there are literally hundreds of locations offering free food to individuals and families in need. Most distribution points are either food pantries or “Grab & Go” meals at NYC schools. For those with Internet access, there are a number of decent sources to find out exactly what and where all these facilities are and when they are open. Here are just some of them:

Plentiful For Families is a free, easy-to-use reservation system for food pantries and the people they serve. Use Plentiful to find pantries and get the food you need, without waiting in line. Go to: https://www.plentifulapp.com/families

Covid-19 Food Hub NYC (https://sites.google.com/foodeducationfund.org/foodhubnyc/) is a great resource sharing site.

Open NYC Resources for the Homeless/Vulnerable is an interactive map showing the frontline resources (food pantries, soup kitchens, drop-in centers) that are open in NYC as of April 8, 2020, as reported by the Coalition for the Homeless.  

Access NYC (https://access.nyc.gov/programs/emergency-food-assistance/) is the New York City government web address for emergency food assistance.

We’d also like to post excerpts from an interview story done by reporter Lela Nargi for the NYC-based website “Civil Eats,” which focuses on the efforts of New York City Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, recently named by Mayor Bill de Blasio to be the “Covid-19 Food Czar” for the entire city. In the first three weeks since her appointment, Garcia has overseen a Herculean effort to obtain food, transport it into the city and distribute it to the people who need it most. The original full story, which was also posted on the New York Eater website, can be found here: https://civileats.com/2020/04/07/nyc-food-czar-kathryn-garcia-is-overseeing-a-massive-supply-chain-and-feeding-the-hungry/

Here is the interview, in part:

What are the challenges to keep supply chains strong right now?

We’re seeing massive consumer changes, [and] not only with panic buying, which is working itself out. With everyone at home, we suddenly have a city of bakers, and people are looking for more calorie-dense foods. There is food coming into the city, but on any given [normal] day, 40 percent of it goes to restaurants, and we’re now scrambling to serve the grocery market. The real challenge there is in the labor sector. People are sick, people are scared, and [that leads to] not having enough people in stores to shelve food. It’s a significant constraint.

One thing that has been somewhat helpful is that there’s strong diversity within the system: We’re not reliant on any one supply chain. But there is concern that in a month or two, other parts of the country will be significantly impacted [by Covid-19], which could impact our supply chain. So we’re looking back to the Midwest: Are they planting? Getting the labor they need into the fields so we don’t have issues in two months’ time?

We’re also doing things like counting the number of trucks coming into [Bronx food distribution hub] Hunts Point every day and trying to figure out how to keep them coming; drivers need a layover space, access to restaurants and food that’s socially distant so they’re not spending any time in the city and encountering people, so they can stay safe.

School-based grab-and-go meals for kids went into effect in mid-March, and on April 3, you expanded the program to include three free meals a day for all New Yorkers. How is it working so far?

We’re really beefing up all our emergency feeding programs, whether at food pantries or through grab-and-go at 435 public schools. (A website naming all of these school distribution points can be found here: https://www.schools.nyc.gov/freemeals). And with philanthropic support, we continue to expand our ability to do home delivery for fragile populations. We’re also figuring out which populations are on the sidelines and getting them back into the labor force; we’ve activated taxi and Uber and Lyft drivers who are now unemployed and are pairing them at [six] distribution sites [at parks and recreation centers] to do meal delivery.

We’re also working with Small Business Services to figure out how to get grocery stores more employees for restocking. We’re in contact with big associations of grocers, with ethnic associations of grocers, with trucking associations, with the nonprofit and advocate sectors, talking to them about what they’re seeing on the ground, how we can be more supportive, how we can keep them strong so they can still be providers. It’s a lot of coordination and rebuilding of the market at a moment of incredibly rapid change, when people have turned on a dime and are behaving completely differently because they’re sheltering in place.

New York on a “normal” day has 1.2 million food-insecure residents, and that number is thought to have increased exponentially since coronavirus became an issue. How much of the need for meals have you been able to meet?

We did north of 200,000 meals [on April 3 alone], between grab-and-go and all the other programs going on in the city; [about 70,000 of those meals] went to seniors.  There is more need out there but also a lot of fear, with people afraid to go outside. That’s why we are rapidly trying to expand the capacity to do home delivery, even for seniors who are usually independent, who went to the grocery store and made their own food, because even if they’re well-off and can pay, grocery delivery is hampered by not having enough staff.

We also need to get food to people that’s what they’re used to eating. Obviously, we have very diverse communities, with many dietary restrictions [and preferences]. We’re working with foundations and trusted organizations in Mexican-American and Asian-American neighborhoods — and we also have a very large Orthodox population — to get them foods they’re accustomed to.

How are you reaching people in low-resource communities that might not be able to access relevant information online about where to go for food?

We’ve done a lot of robo-calls into those communities to get the word out, and anyone can call 311, which has language access. For the sheltered population, delivery for [Covid-19] isolation and other shelters is being run through the Department of Social Services, which has its own emergency feeding contracts.

For the undocumented, there are no screens for citizenship, and no screen of any kind on any of the meals we’re home delivering. We are connecting with trusted social service organizations and coordinating with them to get food to those populations. For example, we are actively trying to work with our farmers’ market network to reach in there and do pop-ups.

Who is actually making meals right now?

Right now [essential cafeteria workers at] schools are making meals for grab-and-go, and we have been contracting with bigger firms, like [food recovery non-profit] Rethink Food (https://www.rethinkfood.nyc/), that can put together meal delivery in a standardized way [so there’s no duplication or overlap in efforts, or inconsistency in service].

Have you been learning from the emergency feeding efforts of other cities, or vice-versa?

We’ve talked to some folks on the West Coast, but we all have different challenges in terms of how many people were food-insecure before and how many people are suddenly food-insecure now. We are sharing what we’re doing, and looking for opportunities to think outside the box, but no one was prepared for something of this scale, and obviously in New York, it’s hitting faster than it is in other places.

There’s been a surge of interest in growing food, and community gardens in NYC opened on April 1. Are there ways to support these efforts?

Any of the normal things you would do in a hunger crisis, like big soup kitchen feedings, do not work here. The issue with community gardens is social distancing, and we really need to make sure we’re not together in any way and that when we are outside, we are covering our faces with masks. Right at this moment, it’s not viable to put people together communally. Being safe is more important. The next two weeks are going to be really tough, until we bend that curve.

Greene County

Working northward from Ulster County, the nonprofit Community Action organization in Greene County is doing all it can to provide essential services to the community, while protecting its staff and consumers from unnecessary risks. From Tuesday, March 31, and continuing onward for the foreseeable future, the organization has new office hours at its facility at 7856 Route 9W in Catskill: Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Food pantry hours have been expanded to include all hours the facility is open. People can donate to Community Action’s Covid-19 Relief Fund on the group’s website at: https://cagcny.org/

Columbia County

Many of the food resources to be had in Columbia County are spelled out on the City of Hudson’s government website at http://www.cityofhudson.org/covid-19/index.php#food. We’ll repeat that fine list here:

Catholic Charities Columbia Greene. 431 East Allen Street, Hudson. Open Monday, 9-12 noon; Wednesday, 12 noon – 5p.m. At present, client choice for food. One-time emergency assistance preferably arranged over the phone. (518) 828-8660 
https://www.catholiccharitiescg.org 
https://www.facebook.com/greenecatholiccharities/

Christ Episcopal Church. 431 Union Street, Hudson. Open Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Columbia Opportunities. 540 Columbia Street, Hudson. Food Pantry and emergency assistance. Please call ahead for an appointment. (518) 828-4611.
https://www.columbiaopportunities.org 
https://www.facebook.com/columbiaopportunities/

Hudson City School District. Breakfast and lunch available to all children age 18 and under, free of charge. View the district website for updates: https://www.hudsoncsd.org/2020/03/17/student-meal-pick-up-procedure/

Hudson Senior Center. If you need support signing up for grocery delivery services, finding reliable information about the coronavirus, need food or prepared meals, or need information about any support services offered please call the Senior Center at (518) 828-3200.

Hudson Youth Department. Delivering food packages to locations in Hudson. Learn more about its free food programs at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1rdS6BbmvRJA3ClVDo8-ZJoXdN9J9YdZd-U23QrEuuu0/edit?ts=5e7539f0, and visit its Facebook donation page here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/2491669644418943/

Rock Solid Church Pantry. 334 Union St., Hudson. Pre-packed bags of groceries only going forward.  Second and fourth Friday of the month from 10 a.m.-12 noon, adding first and third Thursday from 4-5 p.m. 518-828-2444.
https://regionalfoodbank.net/agencies/rock-solid-church-food-pantry/

Salvation Army Food Pantry. 40 S. Third St., Hudson. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, 8 a.m.-10 a.m. Pre-packed groceries. Free take-out lunches Monday – Friday, 11:30-12:30.  518-822-1602. Food pantry locations: https://regionalfoodbank.net/agencies/salvation-army-hudson-food-pantry/

St. Mark’s Lutheran Food Pantry. 200 Fairview Ave., Hudson. Pre-packed bags of groceries going forward. Monday and Thursday, 9 a.m.-12 noon. 518-822-1688
https://regionalfoodbank.net/agencies/st-marks-lutheran-food-pantry-2/

Time & Space Limited. 434 Columbia St., Hudson. 5:30 p.m. comfort food suppers for pick-up or delivery. Just $5, or pay what you can. Order ahead of time: 518-822-8100 or email jeff@timeandspace.org

Zion Community Food Pantry. Bliss Towers, 41 North 2nd Street, Hudson. Open second and fourth Tuesday of the month from 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., and first and fourth Friday of the month from noon to 1 p.m. They offer grocery bag delivery to Providence Hall (119 Columbia St, Hudson) on the third Tuesday; available to people 70 and up, and the handicapped. Please sign up on the sheet in Providence Hall. 518-610-1980. https://regionalfoodbank.net/agencies/zion-community-food-pantry/

In addition, the Hudson Youth Department (https://hudsonyouth.org/food-bank/) is creating food packages for children who depended on breakfast and lunch within the Hudson School District. The Friends of Hudson Youth Food Bank is currently accepting donations to ensure these costs remain covered. To donate or to receive services, email Peter Frank at peter@hudsonyouth.org, or call (917) 748-4662.

Rensselaer County

The Rensselaer Central School District food service department is providing meals to any student in the community, utilizing school bus services to deliver breakfast and lunch weekdays between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., based on the children’s scheduled morning bus stops. If you are interested in receiving meals for your child/children, please call Terri Hopper after 7 a.m. on Tuesday, March 17 at (518) 396-3491 and provide the following:

  • Your child/children’s name
  • Parent/guardian name
  • The letter designated to your child/children’s bus for the morning route
  • The nearest intersection
  • Food allergies
  • If you are unable to get through via the phone, you may email Louis Lanz this information at llanz@rcsd.k12.ny.us
  • If your child/children will not be at their scheduled morning location during the time of delivery, please let us know what the address is of their location and what the closest intersection is.
  • If your child/children is a walker, a special bus route will deliver at various locations along Washington Ave. in order to accommodate them. This information will be distributed as well.

The Capital District

Much as the five boroughs of New York City are doing, the four counties and multiple municipalities in the greater Capital District (including Rensselaer County, above) are working almost as one to handle this crisis. One major example of this is the Food Pantries for the Capital District, a coalition of more than 60 food pantries in Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga, and Schenectady counties. Given these unprecedented times, the organization is working diligently to ensure that regional food pantries are prepared. The group is seeking cash donations, volunteers, and donations of food, personal hygiene, household products, and diapers to neighborhood pantries. Please call ahead of time — that way they can tell you exactly what they need. The main website can be found here: https://www.thefoodpantries.org/. Corporations, organizations or other groups looking to lend a hand can connect with Kathy Marco at 518-458-1167 x104.

The group also publishes this page, which links to listings of the pantries in the Capital region, by county, as well as a listing of school district food programs and dozens of community-based food resources: https://www.thefoodpantries.org/covid-19-food-access-information-.html

Feeding homebound children through this crisis is a huge priority. There are dozens if not hundreds of other efforts underway in the greater Capital Region, from Hudson and Coxsackie all the way north to Glens Falls. In an effort not to re-invent the wheel, it is useful here to link to a fine compilation of resources by Erika Leigh of Spectrum News: https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/capital-region/coronavirus/2020/03/17/where-kids-can-get-meals-while-school-is-out-in-the-capital-region

A similar listing for the Mid-Hudson region was compiled by Allison Kay for the WRRV website: https://wrrv.com/hudson-valley-school-districts-and-restaurants-giving-out-free-meals-to-students/.

Saratoga restaurants pitching in, for as long as they can

Saratoga’s Broadway Deli at 420 Broadway in Saratoga Springs is offering free lunches for children in need, according to a Facebook post at https://www.facebook.com/SaratogaBD/photos/a.1790884924326376/2826780930736765/. The lunch is meant only for families having trouble feeding their kids during school closures and layoffs. People in need can come in and “just show us this post and we will make the food for you without drawing attention.” Takeout meals consisting of “a basic sandwich of bread, protein, cheese, and dressing … also some sort of side …” and “hopefully fruit”, or “PB&J as well as gluten-free bread for kids who need it” will be available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. If possible, please call ahead or message the deli on Facebook or Instagram, so they know how much food to order and how many people to staff.

The offer is not open-ended, according to the post. “Most importantly, this will run for as long as I can do it. We’ve already seen a drastic decline in sales. Thankfully local churches, organizations, and fellow restaurateurs are offering to help. If any more restaurants or groups offer a similar program I’ll be sure to let you know. I still have to consider my own family and the families of my staff. If people feel like making donations in the form of cash, cases of water, juice boxes, or fruit cups that would be appreciated. If there are additional resources when this is all said and done it will be donated to the Salvation Army or soup kitchens or food pantries. Any cash donations will be put towards staying operational and buying product. If there’s an excess we will donate part of that too.” The deli is accepting Venmo donations: @SBDeli

Along with the children’s meals supplied by Saratoga’s Broadway Deli above (as well as by D’ndrea’s Pizza at 3 Caroline St.), the Whole Harvest Company at 5 Caroline Street in Saratoga Springs is supplementing the Saratoga School District’s free lunch program by offering free salads for children who rely on free or reduced-price lunches at school. They also do more than hint on their Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/WholeHarvestCo/posts/831375580675917) that: “If you are an adult who needs a meal, please let us know and we will do our absolute best to help you too!” Again, if you’re a family in need but are embarrassed to ask, the post says: “Show us this post on your phone and we will discreetly bring you a salad!” The salad will include mixed greens, quinoa, veggies, pepita seed and oil/vinegar. As with the nearby deli, the offer will run “for as long as I can do it. We’ve already seen a 60% decline in sales but want to be sure to help where we can.” Cash donations are welcome. The business Venmo is Whole-Harvest.

Warren County

Up north near the top of the Hudson Valley in Glens Falls, the Open Door Mission (https://opendoor-ny.org) is providing essential residential and shelter programs, as well as meals and a food pantry. The Mission offers food at 47 Lawrence Street in Glens Falls. The Soup Kitchen is open Monday through Friday from 12 noon until 1 p.m., for food-to-go items. Area churches and restaurants are being asked to provide brown bag lunches or hot meals to support the Mission’s neighbors. To get involved, contact program director Jamie Munyon at 518-792-5900 ext. 300. The food pantry will remain available to the community on Mondays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Those in need should call the office at 518-792-5900 to schedule a pickup time. Open Door Mission also remains committed to providing more than 450 students with food. They are collaborating closely with schools on distribution in the midst of school closures.

Morgan & Co. Restaurant at 65 Ridge Street in Glens Falls is offering nutritious meals to go at no cost to kids in need. Email Steve Butters at morganandcompany65@gmail.com for more information, or see the restaurant’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/704564282930540/photos/a.722131297840505/2743841789002769/

That’s it for now, everyone. Stay safe. Shop safe. This, too, shall pass. Meanwhile, we’ll be asking around about what our friends in the food, wine and craft beverage industries are doing to keep the flame of epicurean living alight through these tough times. We can, and we will, get back to the good life here in the beautiful Hudson Valley. Take care!

Steve Hopkins

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