POUGHKEEPSIE — The “All for One” community initiative hosted a food drive outside of the Poughkeepsie Galleria to provide groceries to Dutchess County families impacted by food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sarah Salem, director of Development for Dutchess Outreach, weighed in on the growing hunger crisis in the area.
“Even before this crisis in Dutchess County, 27,000 individuals were considered food insecure. That’s around nine percent of the population,” she said.
“Now that COVID has hit our community, we’re seeing in our organization, individuals who are coming back after 20 years of not needing our services.”
Food donations were collected from a drop-off spot in Barnegat Road in Poughkeepsie between May 28 and May 30. Around 1,300 boxes of food donations in total were collected and distributed to families in need via a drive-thru.
Dr. Seema Rizvi, the organizer of the initiative, and her husband, Dr. Syed Rizvi, gave a check of $5,000 to Dutchess outreach, which was accepted by board member Todd Bender.
Tara Whalen, associate director of Dutchess Outreach, praised their donation and fundraising efforts.
She said the Drs. Rizvi “are doing a tremendous amount of work to battle the uptick in food insecurity. The drive-thru food distribution was a spectacular idea. Hundreds of people were able to get food at the event. When combined with the very generous donation to Dutchess Outreach, the Rizvis will be feeding several hundred more people in need.”
Dr. Rizvi expressed her gratitude for the overall generosity of the community.
“The idea of doing food boxes is also for the community working together to show the sensitivity and compassion,” she said. “I’m very blessed that we have a beautiful community.”
Both volunteers and families showed up an hour before it was set to start, which touched State Senator Sue Serino.
“People lined up here at 12 o’clock, knowing that it started at one,” she said. “I can tell you from talking to hundreds and hundreds of people each week that aren’t collecting their unemployment, that they’re desperate for food. And it’s evident today that you’re getting people coming through.”
While attendees were delighted by the generosity of the community, they also expressed concern around the ongoing riots across the country that emerged after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Both Serino and her opponent in the 2020 State Senate election, Karen Smythe, offered their thoughts on the matter.
“Now is it time with an ever that we should be united and not divided,” said Serino. “We need more kindness and respect in our country.”
“I feel very, very strongly that we need to be supporting everyone in our community,” said Smythe, who lent her support to the food drive as a volunteer.
Dr. Rizvi expressed a desire to host an event similar to her annual All for One solidarity discussions that will address the recent incidents. She also hopes to start a food drive for families in the City of Beacon in the near future following the success of this food drive.