Great Partnerships Bring Local Food to Families

POUGHKEEPSIE – Thanks to a partnership with Dutchess Outreach, Poughkeepsie City School District Community Schools Department provided about 200 bags of food to city residents Friday.

Dutchess Outreach used grant money to purchase produce, dairy and food items from local farms and companies and then brought that food to the district administration building on South Perry Street, where staff put it all into bags.

This program builds on one established at Morse Elementary School which, since 2015, has provided food to 60 families on a monthly basis through a partnership with the Jewish Social Action Committee.

The United Way of Dutchess-Orange Region joined the effort recently, too, providing reusable grocery bags so the food can be carried home reliably.

As part of the project, Dutchess Outreach Farm Stand was able to secure more than 1,000 pounds of fresh, locally-produced and sourced food. This is just the first distribution. In total, approximately 3,500 pounds of produce is expected to be given out for families to enjoy.

Stacy Dedring, farm and market manager for Dutchess Outreach, said the food was purchased through grants specifically for buying local produce and distributing it.

“This was the perfect partnership,” she said after carrying boxes and bags of food into the building.

Fresh produce is critical for the health and development of our children and this is an important addition to the distribution.

Dedring and other Dutchess Outreach staff, the Community Schools department and other volunteers packed up bags. Each bag contained a head of cabbage, about one pound each of carrots and potatoes, two pounds of onions, ¾ pound of beets, a quart of yogurt, a six ounce container of cheese, eggs and some bread.

Distribution took place that afternoon at Morse and Warring elementary schools and the Early Learning Center based on results of the district’s needs assessment and lists developed by principals at each school.

There were 100 bags allocated for Morse and 50 each for Warring and ELC.

“The need is high,” said Natasha Brown, executive director of community schools. “We’re excited about the partnership with Dutchess Outreach that gives us the opportunity to provide local, healthy food and produce to our families. The families were all very grateful to receive the bags full of food.”

If you are a local food vendor and want to help PCSD feed more families, please contact them via the Parent Empowerment Center (PEC) at 845-451-4900 ext. 1425. Families interested in receiving food from future distributions – scheduled for February 24 and March 24 – should also contact the PEC, Brown said.

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