Its hard to believe that anyonelet alone the elderlycould go hungry in the affluent communities of Westchester and Fairfield counties.
Yet Kathleen Purdy understands that mentality--she used to be under the same impression. That was before she learned that her grandmother, along with many of her aging neighbors, didn't have enough to eat because they either didn't have the money or a way to get to a food pantry.
Purdy, who now heads Hillside Food Outreach, soon began delivering two food bags every third week of the month to those in need.
Eleven years later, Hillside Food Outreach is a recognized charity, having expanded to Westchester, Putnam and Fairfield counties. It distributes packages to nearly 2,000 people twice a month in Westchester and Putnam counties from warehouses in Pleasantville, N.Y., and Danbury, Conn.
You start to see how that need affects people after developing relationships with them and learning what this situation does to people, she said.
The food delivered to families and seniors includes the proper nutrients for a healthy diet, thanks to Purdy and her team of benefactors. She said the food most pantries hand out is inexpensive (such as white pasta and rice) and may not be healthful. She said it's also important to find healthy alternatives for those who with diabetes or wheat allergies.
Purdy organization has developed a relationship with Wakefern Food Corporation, owner of ShopRite supermarkets. With Wakeferns help, Hillside is able to purchase fresh produce, brown rice and sometimes even dairy products at a lesser rate.
"You dont have to go overseas to help people, you can do it right in your own backyard," said Purdy.
Local organizations like Maid Brigade and volunteers are starting to take notice and are donating time and money to Hillside Food Outreach. There is even a two- to three-month waiting list of people all ages who want to help pack bags.
Its a great opportunity to teach kids around here that there are people who are hungry in this area. People just dont see it or want to believe it, Purdy said.
If you want to lend a hand, come out to the Grand Prix in Mount Kisco on Thursday, July 14, for the organization's "Let's Drive Away Hunger" fundraiser. Call Kathy Purdy at (914) 747-0095 for more details.
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