Back To School? Already?

Midland School visits caritasPC to help with Pantry

Midland School visits caritasPC to help with Pantry

For the past two years CaritasPC has been actively expanding its school engagement program.

We started with Middle School Language Arts teachers who were excited about the prospect of students practicing Spanish with some of our guests and it quickly expanded to include social studies and other classes with a similar interest - to get young people actively involved in the community.

Wednesday is now officially School Pantry Day with students and teachers taking over all the jobs working alongside our seasoned volunteers. The planning for the school year begins now, as the students head off on their summer vacation and the teachers have a few days to think about the fall.

Scarsdale Middle School’s Stephen Jackson preps his students before assigning them jobs at our pantry.

Scarsdale Middle School’s Stephen Jackson preps his students before assigning them jobs at our pantry.

Before the classes come, we visit the schools to meet with teachers and students in their classroom to explain the jobs in our pantry, answer questions about food insecurity and participate in a class mock pantry giving students an opportunity to test their language skills. Throughout the school year these classes come to set up the pantry, sort produce and assist our guests with their shopping.

This is more than a way to get volunteers. The students have a way of lighting up the room, creating an atmosphere that is positive, joyful and engaging. Our clients look forward to School Pantry Days because they feel special.

Participating schools include Midland School, Scarsdale Middle School, Port Chester Middle School and the Advanced Spanish classes from Rye Country Day School and Greenwich Academy/Brunswick. During the summer, The New York School for the Deaf comes for several weeks. And that is an amazing experience.

Most community service projects students work on are behind the scenes, packing bags of food at the food bank, working in a community garden or stocking shelves. What we provide, that teachers and coaches want is community engagement.

The School Pantry Day program is just one of the ways we are working with local schools and organizations to make community engagement the heart of our operation. Stay tuned. We have a lot more coming in the Fall.

  • Bill Cusano, Executive Director


Farm to Table and Back Again?


Every Summer and Fall, several farms and community gardens donate part of their harvest to Caritas for use in our kitchen and for distribution at our pantry.

Most of what we receive is edible but some is not.

As part of our Wast No Food initiative, we gather up scraps and peelings, as well as rotten or damaged produce and fruit collected from restaurants and supermarkets, and we send them back to the farm for composting. 

When you come to volunteer as either a sous chef in our kitchen or to help with pantry distributions on Wednesdays and Saturdays, you may find yourself filling blue recycle bags with vegetables and fruit that is much better suited for composting than for consumption.  The bags will either be dropped off at Hilltop Hanover Farms in Yorktown Heights, or picked up by The New York School for the Deaf for composting in their locations.

We will be looking to expand the network of restaurants, stores, farms and community gardens participating in this recycling initiative, so let us know if you are aware of anyone who might be interested.

We will use the good and recycle what isn't to help contain the cost of feeding the hungry.

Won't you join us?


Doubling Up on Health

How much protein does a person need to consume in a day?

USDA Protein Foods Table Daily Recommendation

USDA Protein Foods Table Daily Recommendation

The amount of protein one needs depends on age and gender, which makes setting up a pantry a bit challenging, since each household is unique. If we were to try to assign quantities based on this chart, it would drive our clients and volunteers crazy, and it would take a lot longer to shop at the pantry.

The approach we have taken is to identify a set number of items in each category, and make sure we include several that can feed more than one or two people. Whole chickens and eggs by the dozen are perfect examples, but we try to go beyond what is required, doubling the number of items families can take by setting up two protein sections. One is for peanut butter, beans and tuna, while the other is for frozen and fresh meat, chicken, fish and eggs. However, we do make an exception for pregnant women, by giving them even more than the double amount offered to regular clients. 

When we compared what we would offer if we followed the serving suggestions versus what we are offering now, we discovered our clients have many more choices and get to take more food home to feed their families.

Proteins & Dairy by Serving.                                           Proteins & Dairy by Number of Items

Proteins & Dairy by Serving.                                           Proteins & Dairy by Number of Items

As a result, we estimate our clients leave with 4-5 days of food rather than the typical 3.

We can only do that with the help of our donors and sponsors who provide annual grants to increase the options for healthy nutrition.  

Over the past year grants for additional proteins were made available by TD Bank, Junior League of Westchester on the Sound, The Hudson Gateway Realtor Foundation, and The Greenleaf Foundation.

We have applied for more grants to support our expanded protein table, and we are awaiting responses.  

So, what do you think?  Is our idea of providing more than required something you would like to help us do?  

Why not join us on Pantry Days (Wednesday 9-10 am; and Saturday, 8-10 am) and see?

If you haven't felt the joy of giving lately, you need to come. Everyone leaves smiling.



The Stove is Back

We are excited to tell you that our stove has been fixed! It has been broken for over a month and we have been making do with our convection oven. The biggest issue with this was that we had to buy more expensive food for our kitchen even though we had to make simpler meals. We are looking forward to providing our clients with diverse options moving forward.

stove is back.jpg

Additionally, the Summer Camp is starting with the Church so Caritas is lively today. Even though the camp is operating within our space, this does not mean that we are closed for the Summer.