ELMSFORD, N.Y. — Judging on how busy it's been, James Degree, The Food Bank for Westchester's warehouse supplier, estimated that 20,000 pounds of turkeys will go through the Elmsford food pantry this holiday season.
While it's not unusual for the countywide food bank to be busy this time of the year, extra donations have flowed in from residents hoping to make the holiday a little cheerier for victims of Hurricane Sandy. Degree and other food bank employees and volunteers have been working around the clock, making sure all the donations get to the listed soup kitchens and churches by Thanksgiving.
"We're feeling the difference — some employees are working six days a week now," said Jeanne Wilcox, The Food Bank for Westchester's communications manager. "This is our busiest time of year, but we have the hurricane to cope with now, too. The community really rallied as a result of Sandy."
Most of the food bank's donations are collected from corporations, schools and community organizations, and local soup kitchens can register to have the food delivered. But because of the high demand for food, food bank workers have had trouble completing all the deliveries — some pantries have instead had to pick the food up themselves, said Nancy Lyons, the volunteer coordinator.
"We've had an extra 100 tons of food delivered this week. Normally we donate about 10-20 tons," Lyons said. "We're very fortunate that some places can pick up, because our trucks are so busy delivering that they aren't able to."
Immediately following Hurricane Sandy, more than 75 volunteers prepared hundreds of nonperishable food bags and delivered them to community centers in Port Chester, Ossining, Yonkers and Peekskill. The food bank's2,500 volunteers log at least 14,000 hours throughout the year, Wilcox said.
The Food Bank for Westchester is still accepting donations to take to local shelters for Thanksgiving, and is also still asking for nonperishable items like peanut butter, canned tuna, bread, cereal, juice boxes and personal hygiene products to give to people still struggling after Hurricane Sandy. Donations can be dropped off at 200 Clearbrook Road, Elmsford.
For more information, visit The Food Bank for Westchester's website.