Profiles In Hunger

Three Westchester residents share their stories

Carolina A.* (left) is in a rush. She’s out of breath as she explains that she’d been trying to squeeze in some exercise to shed her post-baby weight. Bright-eyed Sofia just turned 1; Carolina’s other child, Elena, is 3. With a shy smile, Carolina apologizes that her English isn’t as good as she wants it to be. She came to this country from the Dominican Republic in 2008. Determined to improve, she’s taking two different English classes, one at the Mount Kisco Library. That’s where she learned about the nutrition course at The Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry. Only when she arrived for class did she realize that an array of free food was also available.

“I came because I love to feed my family healthy,” she says. “I’m breastfeeding, and I need to eat well, too. I love the vegetables, but in the nutrition class, she teaches us how to use the cans, too.”

Carolina’s husband works full-time as a maintenance man at a nearby synagogue, but his salary cannot support his family of four. To help, she’s started her own small business making hair accessories. But Carolina has bigger ambitions. She doesn’t want to use the pantry any longer than necessary. Her hope is to someday be able to afford college. Her dream is to become a nutritionist.

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Patrick L. likes to cook Italian food. It’s his heritage, he says. Did he ever think he’d need a food pantry? “Never. I was brought up to be independent,” he says. In a black hoodie and sweat pants, Patrick describes the days when he managed a chain of grocery stores. For a while, he drove a limo, and Patrick is happy to list the many celebrities he squired around New York. But diabetes took its toll on the 50-year-old. First, he lost his vision. Then he lost his kidneys. “I used to make good money, and if it wasn’t for the fact that I got sick, I wouldn’t have to depend on anyone,” he says.

The father of three girls, Patrick gets deliveries from Shepherd’s Flock in Yonkers. The food warms up the house, he says. Not only do the aromatic scents of cooking create a cozy atmosphere, but money not spent on food goes to pay for heat. “At the end of the month, finances are very, very low,” he says. Patrick describes the deliveries as “a godsend. Knowing that they’re there for my kids and myself, it’s just a load off of my mind,” he explains. “It keeps me from going to sleep crying, wondering where my next meal will come from. It’s not just people who are rich living in Westchester.” 


Christine K. lives just three blocks from The Westchester, the upscale White Plains mall, but she doesn’t shop there. Sitting on her worn corduroy sofa, the soft-spoken 62-year-old didn’t always need help making ends meet. She’s worked as a word processor, a nurse’s aid, a receptionist, and at CVS. But two years ago, Christine was hospitalized with an anxiety disorder. Upon her release, she did not return to her job. That’s when Christine, who grew up in Yonkers, began visiting the pantry at her local parish, the Ridgeway Alliance Church in White Plains. The extra food means “I just don’t have to worry about every penny,” says Christine. Through the pantry, she’s even expanded her culinary horizons, tasting—and liking—kale for the first time. 

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Wanting to give back, Christine began volunteering at the pantry, helping to shelve food. (Throughout the county, many people who use food pantries also volunteer their time there.) Today, Christine keeps one Bible on her coffee table and another by her side. “The caring people make all the difference in this world,” she says. Back <<  

Hunger by the Numbers

1 in 5 Westchester residents—roughly 200,000 people—are hungry or at risk for hunger.

33 percent of people relying on feeding programs in Westchester are children; 22 percent are seniors. 

Caritas of Port Chester served 39,496 meals last year in its soup kitchen.

In 2014, the Food Bank for Westchester supplied local feeding programs with 7.6 million pounds of food, which translates into 6.3 million meals. 

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34 percent of Westchester public-school students —or 1 in 3—qualify for subsidized meals.          

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

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