Mount Kisco Food Pantry Expands to More Effectively Serve Guests
For the past 30 years, the Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry has been sustaining families facing food insecurity within the village and in communities throughout northern Westchester.
Recently, its volunteer leaders and partners at the United Methodist Church of Mount Kisco, where the pantry is located, created a larger space on the church’s lower level to better serve the approximately 440 households and 1,300 people each week who rely on the extra assistance.
They converted the downstairs Porter Library, named after the church’s late pastor Willett Porter, into the pantry’s Porter Annex. There is now additional space for refrigerators to offer better and more nutritious choices for their guests.
Last week Porter’s widow Shirley, son Ross and daughter-in-law Lisa, cut the ribbon to ceremonially open the annex. Although Rev. Porter, who served as the congregation’s spiritual leader from 1973 to 1989, was no longer the pastor when the pantry opened in 1991, he remained dedicated to helping the needy in the area.
“One of the great things is my father walked this area many, many times, so he was a big believer in the food pantry,” Ross Porter said. “He was a volunteer walking these aisles. Rice was his favorite.”
Pantry Director of Operations and Programs Roberta Horowitz said the additional space, estimated at perhaps 800-plus square feet, will allow guests to social distance more effectively for the remainder of the pandemic. For much of the past 20 months, volunteers coordinated a drive-through operation in the parking lot.
Even with the easing of restrictions to allow families to once again choose their food off the shelves, only about four families have been allowed into the area at a time. Now with the cold weather coming in for the winter, fewer guests will be forced to wait outside.
Beyond that, the extra refrigeration will expand the offerings to families, Horowitz said.
“That will give us more options to have a lot more between the eggs and the frozen protein, we’ll have a lot more space to give our guests what they need,” she said.
There is also improved lighting and there will be the room to hold cooking demonstration classes in the future.
The Mount Ksico Interfaith Food Pantry has helped fill a gaping hole for families in need. From the start of the pandemic through July, it saw a nearly 50 percent jump in visits.
A goal was to make the guests feel as though they’re walking into a grocery store rather than making it seem they’re accepting help, said Sharon Seidell, co-president of the Board Management Committee.
“So there’s a lot of people that come through,” Seidell said. “Most of them are neighbors right here in Mount Kisco and we really wanted it to be a special place that was very welcoming.”
Making the expansion possible was the shuffling of space by the church. Bobbie McCann, the president of the church’s trustees, said accommodating the larger pantry space set off a chain reaction of relocations within the building, which included moving library, the choir room, the toddler room and the area for the Sunday School.
In the end, any inconvenience was little compared to the help it will provide, she said.
“I’m very good at these visions, and I said, ‘Yeah, we can do this,’” McCann said. “So we did a lot of moving around and it was for a wonderful cause. So no regrets.”
The Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry is open from 4 to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and 9 to 11 a.m. on Wednesdays. For more information, including donations, visit www.mountkiscofoodpantry.org.
Martin has more than 30 years experience covering local news in Westchester and Putnam counties, including a frequent focus on zoning and planning issues. He has been editor-in-chief of The Examiner since its inception in 2007. Read more from Martin’s editor-author bio here. Read Martin’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/martin-wilbur2007/