Fred’s Pantry has been awarded the 2012 Hunger Hero Service Provider Award by the Food Bank for Westchester. The award was presented June 5 at the 7th Annual Hunger Heroes Awards Breakfast at Abigail Kirsch at Tappan Hill, Tarrytown. The award was accepted by Ruth Wells, of Peekskill, board chair of Caring for the Homeless of Peekskill (CHOP).
The Service Provider Award is one of four awards bestowed annually by the Food Bank to a Service Provider, a Volunteer, a Donor and a Corporation who have made great efforts and had significant impacts in the fight against hunger during the past year.
In addition to Fred's Pantry, this year's awardees are: Volunteer Award: Lorraine Buonocunto, of the Ecumenical Emergency Food Pantry, White Plains; Donor Award: Neri’s Bakery, Port Chester; and Corporate Service Award: Morgan Stanley Foundation.
Fred’s Pantry opened in February 2010 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in downtown Peekskill. A much-needed food source in the heart of Peekskill, it has built a client base of 1,300 families and a corps of over 200 volunteers in just two years.
Founded by CHOP, Fred’s Pantry is named for Commander Fred London, a Green Beret Vietnam War veteran and two-time Purple Heart recipient. He was deeply committed to helping veterans and was instrumental in starting the food pantry at the Montrose Veteran’s Administration. He saw a great need for a centrally located food pantry in downtown Peekskill. He was working with CHOP to get one established when he fell ill and passed away in October 2008.
Jeanne Blum, then executive director of Caring for the Homeless of Peekskill, was determined to carry out Fred’s wishes and in little more than a year from the date of his death, Fred’s Pantry opened in downtown Peekskill in partnership with St. Peter’s Church.
Fred’s Pantry is a “client choice” pantry that allows people the dignity of selecting their food. It started with monthly distributions, but quickly transitioned to weekly distributions on Saturdays, making it accessible to many working people. Fred’s Pantry serves an average of 350 individuals every week, filling a great need by providing a vital, accessible resource to hungry people in Peekskill.
ABOUT THE FOOD BANK: The Food Bank for Westchester, a not-for-profit organization that has been fighting hunger for 24 years, is the backbone of the county's emergency food network. It supplies 95% of all the food that frontline hunger-relief programs -- food pantries, soup kitchens, residential facilities, adult and child day-care centers, --feed to hungry people, either as cooked meals or bags of food to take home. The Food Bank estimates that 200,000 people in Westchester are hungry or at risk of hunger. Half of them are seniors; a third of them are children under age 18. Last year, the Food Bank distributed over 7 million pounds of food -- but that was not enough! Recently, the Food Bank moved into a larger facility in Elmsford to get more food out to more hungry people now and into the future. The mission of the Food Bank for Westchester is to lead, engage and educate the Westchester public about hunger and to create a hunger-free environment. The Food Bank for Westchester is located at 200 Clearbrook Road, Elmsford 10523; (914) 923-1100; www.foodbankforwestchester.org.