HealthThe Examiner

Mt. Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry Benefit Highlights Escalating Need

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The inflation rate may be down from the stratospheric levels of last year and many people have learned how to live and protect themselves from COVID-19 since 2020.

What hasn’t improved since then is the demand placed on many of the local food pantries that experienced skyrocketing need in the communities that they serve.

That demand continues to put pressure on the Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry, perhaps the busiest pantry in northern Westchester, said Trina Fontaine, its executive director.

“We continue to register new families, and the number of times that the families are visiting us, or the households that are visiting us every month, is increasing,” Fontaine said.

While the Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry hasn’t been a fundraiser-focused outfit, its leaders have organized a benefit for Sunday afternoon, Oct. 15, called “Take a Bite Out of Hunger.” The event will be held at the Captain Lawrence Barrell House at 369 Lexington Ave. in Mount Kisco from 1 to 4 p.m.

The afternoon will feature live music by the Four26 Band along with suds and sliders while highlighting how so many families are still struggling and how that impacts local pantries.

Judging by the numbers tracked by the Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry, which serves 21 communities in northern Westchester but counts about 90 percent of its visitors from the village and Bedford Hills, the need remains “staggering,” Fontaine said. The average number of households served by the pantry has been holding at about 600 a week, a 45 percent increase over last year and adding to the already inflated pandemic rates of three years ago, she said.

In its last completed fiscal year, which concluded on June 30, there were 93,000 in-person visits – and the numbers for the just completed first quarter of the current fiscal year have shown no signs of abating.

Children account for 28 percent of the pantry’s guest population, Fontaine said.

“Certainly, we’re seeing some effect from the asylum seekers, but this is also people that have gotten here and have needed to continue to use our services,” Fontaine said.

“It feels like if we’re lucky, the need will stay level, but even at level, we need a community effort to be able to continue to feed this number of people at these high food prices,” she added.

One myth, as Fontaine calls it, about pantries such as the Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry, is that most of the food that is provided to families is donated.

While individual donor contributions are the greatest source of the pantry’s revenue stream, the pantry must go out and buy the food, including from Feeding Westchester in Elmsford. Pantries are able to buy food at a more efficient rate from Feeding Westchester, able to obtain $4 of food for every $1 that’s donated, Fontaine said.

“We have to buy food. That’s why it’s so important we raise money and why we do our best to encourage people to do food drives and all of that,” Fontaine explained.

The pantry must also procure food from other sources because the need is so great that what it gets from Feeding Westchester isn’t enough. It works with local farms to obtain produce, which is about 30 percent of what they provide their visitors. That way the packages that are provided to a household are balanced and nutritious, Fontaine said.

What has tightened the clamps even more is the evaporation of pandemic-related federal funding.

“During the pandemic, there was a lot of support from the government to help people access food,” Fontaine said. “In some ways, as the need was going up, we had the government supporting us in our efforts to supply food, but now, with all of that federal support drying up, we have higher needs but fewer grants, so this fundraiser is an attempt to get out and try to supplement our grants and donor stream – and to get together as a community to do this.”

To purchase tickets or a sponsorship or to donate, visit and click on the Take a Bite Out of Hunger link under “Get Involved/Events.” E-mails can also be sent to




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