Caroline Gershman, a junior and honor student at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua, is helping to feed the homeless in Northern Westchester by creating what can be called a “hot food harvest for the homeless” whereby she is contacting local restaurants and food stores with hot food bars asking if they are willing to donate their food remaining at the end of the evening to feed people staying overnight in local shelters.
Caroline approached a local non-profit, the Emergency Shelter Partnership (ESP), which provides short-term, emergency shelter during the winter in the northern Westchester area and said that she would like to take on the initiative of getting hot food for the clients served by this organization. Through a coalition of local houses of worship, during the five coldest months of the year, homeless individuals which average approximately 20-25 per night are housed for a week at a local church or synagogue. When they arrive around 9:00 pm at night, many of them have not had a hot meal all day.
Caroline is contacting local restaurants and food stores asking if they would be willing to donate their left-over food from the evening to the local house of worship hosting clients for that week. Many of the hosting congregations have volunteers who will pick up the food and deliver it to the church or synagogue. In the case where there are no volunteers to perform this task, Caroline will provide the transportation.
As of now, Caroline has two restaurants who have committed to help (Quaker Hill Tavern in Chappaqua and the Horse and Hound Inn in South Salem), and she is looking for 10 more restaurants who are willing to donate the food that remains at the end of the evening. Caroline’s goal is to create a coalition of local restaurants willing to participate in this cause.
In addition to getting local restaurants to participate, Caroline has started a fundraiser on Facebook that runs through the end of the year to raise money to provide the clients with a bag filled with shelf-stable packaged food that they leave with in the morning to help sustain them throughout their day. Here is the link to Caroline’s fundraiser: https://www.facebook.com/donate/2332825796977617/
Caroline says, “We have a homeless population right in our own backyard who we don’t see and that also means we have a hungry population who we don’t know about. I want to do what I can to help people at a time of year that is very challenging. In school, I worked on a food sustainability project and it made me think that there’s a way to help others and minimize food waste. It’s possible to create a win-win for everyone.”
The Emergency Shelter Partnership (ESP) is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization in Northern Westchester County, NY which provides short-term, emergency shelter for those who need a place to stay during the coldest five months of the winter.
Shelter is provided through a coalition of congregations – Christian and Jewish – and other community groups, to anyone who needs a safe and warm place to sleep. People gather at the Police Station in Mt. Kisco by 9:00 pm each evening from November through March. There they are met by the ESP bus and an overnight supervisor who transports the group to the congregation which is hosting the shelter that week. When the group arrives at the location where the shelter is hosted, volunteers from the congregation greet them with a hot meal and a room in which to sleep. Coffee and a breakfast bag are provided in the morning. A volunteer from the congregation also spends the night and is available to assist an ESP staff person in the event of an emergency. By 6:30 am the next morning, the group is up and on the bus to return to the Mt. Kisco Police Station.
When the temperature drops and the wind blows, ESP provides a welcome, a meal and a warm safe place to sleep. Emergency Shelter Partnership, P.O. Box 427, Mt. Kisco, NY 10549.