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Summer Vacations Leave Local Food Pantry Short-Handed

President of the task force calls for volunteers.

It's a sunny, summery morning and a dozen volunteers are unloading box after box of food from the back of a truck in Mamaroneck.

Ranging in age from 15 to late 50s, the volunteers work quickly to stock the basement of the CAP building before tonight's distribution shift.

This is the Larchmont/Mamaroneck Hunger Task Force, a group of community-minded individuals who volunteer their time to feed local people in need. According to task force president Melinda Lehman, they are truly a diverse group—from Girl Scouts to grannies.

Lehman said many families in the neighborhood rely on the pantry.

"We have almost 700 families who are registered— all from Larchmont and Mamaroneck," said Lehman, "On any given week, we have 325 families that we feed in the summer."

Keeping up with demand is especially hard in July and August, said Lehman.

"We are short-staffed because of summer vacations. We have very loyal volunteers who come to load up the bags, but we just need more help this time of year," said Lehman.

On this summer day, volunteers worked up a sweat.

"We have strong women who skip going to the gym and come here instead," said volunteer Stephen Bartell, wiping sweat from his brow as he loaded boxes up and down the stairs.

Bartell loves the physicality of it. He found out about the pantry 10 years ago while working out at a local gym.

"I ran into a trainer, the then-chairman of the board who told me about the pantry and said, 'Report to work tomorrow morning!'"

He has been volunteering ever since, and he said not all jobs involve heavy lifting.

"Just come and try it. We have all different ways to help," said Bartell, "It's incredibly gratifying."

Larchmont resident Ron Tanner and his 15-year-old son Max Tanner, have been volunteering here for years.

"I started working here for my mitzvah project," said Max. "It feels great. We are actually doing something for the community by helping people who live right here."

HOW TO HELP:

Volunteers do everything from gathering and moving food, to packing and distributing it.

Volunteers also work in their houses of worship, clubs and schools to organize food drives, raise funds and provide outreach to families in need.

Interested?  The task force distributes groceries twice each month on Tuesday nights between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. and on Wednesday mornings between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Volunteers are needed on Tuesday mornings from 9:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. to unload delivery trucks and late Tuesday afternoons from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. to pack groceries. To volunteer for one of these shifts, please call 914 698-3558 and leave a message or email volunteer@LMFoodPantry.org .

For more information visit http://www.lmfoodpantry.org

HOW TO GET HELP:

People who are in need of food have to fill out a form at a local social service agency. All information is available on their website

The pantry opens two times each month, usually the second and fourth Tuesday evening and following Wednesday morning.

Clients receive a three-day supply of non-perishable food, bread and fresh produce.

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