by Nicole Fitzsimmons
During the coldest months, groups of locals can be seen pouring into local soup kitchens and food pantries to help warm up the entire community. The icy weather and holiday season symbolizes a period where giving is most important and valued. However, food insecurity is very prevalent beyond these months. According to Feeding America, 30,000 people in Rockland are unsure of how they are going to obtain their next meal daily. In the warmer months, meal programs stay in service, providing for the countless families, veterans, and teens in need around Nyack and surrounding areas in Rockland. So, don’t wait until the holiday season to volunteer and give back.
First Reformed Church
Right off Broadway lies the First Reformed Church of Nyack, which is celebrating its sixth year of providing warm meals to people in need. The church’ service program goes by the name of Soup Angels and has become very popular in the Nyack area. Every Wednesday, from 5:30 to 6:30p (and as of January, every Monday from 5:30 to 6:30p), volunteers and program members work to serve warm, home-cooked meals to anyone who enters the church. One hundred and twenty portions of food during is served each meal time, proving Soup Angels to be an extremely important part of the Nyack community. New volunteers are welcomed every week to be added onto teams that work to help feed any person who walks in, all year long. More information can be found on their website (nyackreformed.org/soup-angels.html), or through email (email@example.com). Donations are also always welcome from anyone willing to contribute to the program.
St. Paul and St. Ann Food Pantry
The Parish of St. Paul and St. Ann in Nyack and Valley Cottage also holds a food pantry year-round. Several bags of groceries are provided to families and people who live in Nyack and enter the church with identification. The food is provided from grants such as the Regional Food Bank of NY and from local donors. Fresh produce is also provided from Marydell Garden of Faith during the months of May through October. Every Saturday morning, groceries are distributed from 8–10:30a in St. Ann’s School Cafeteria. Non-perishable food donations and volunteers are always welcomed by the church. To find more information about their program, contact the parish offices, or visit spasaparish.org/food-cupboard.
Right outside of Nyack, there are many other ways people in the community can volunteer to provide food for those in need. People-to-People is Rockland County’s largest food pantry. The organization provides food, clothing, and other necessities to people in need. Their food pantry is open five days a week year round (Monday through Wednesday and Friday, from 9:30a to 4p), with extended hours on Thursdays until 6:30p. To help, financial donations and non-perishable food donations are welcome, along with the option of organizing your own food drive at a church or business or a food collection at a local supermarket. Clothing donations are also welcome year-round, but especially during back-to-school season when their “Back to School with Dignity” program launches to provide children from low income families with vital school supplies. To find more information about People to People, browse peopletopeopleinc.org.
Many people believe that since Rockland is an affluent community, hunger and poverty does not reach many residents.This is not true. Thousands of people are financially unstable and in need of help in the community. Rockland Community Against Hunger is a networking program that links together a network of food pantries and other feeding programs to help provide knowledge and information about food services in the area. Schedules of various food pantries in Rockland County are listed online at rocklandhunger.org, along with information about each one. Thanks to the help of volunteers and these services, over 200,000 meals are served to Rocklanders by food pantries and feeding programs yearly. “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” as Gandhi said. Start with your community, and help contribute to local food pantries throughout the year.