Dedicated staff of Easterseals are taking extraordinary steps to continue to assist those we serve as the nation struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic. In the face of increasing hardship and a dearth of resources and support, our people are stepping up.
Easterseals New York’s Project Discovery is an integrated educational program for preschoolers that includes special education services, as well as an Outreach Program that provides food, clothing, housewares and toys to the neediest residents of Port Jervis. Over 165,000 pounds of food are distributed annually through the Outreach Program.
Each morning bread, produce and other items are displayed on a table in front of 88 East Main Street for residents to pick up as needed, to supplement the food distributed at monthly outreach events
This morning, there were only five loaves of bread.
“We usually get over 1,200 pounds of bread a month but today all we got were five loaves. It’s getting quite serious here,” said Barbara Kuczyra, Outreach Coordinator and School Nurse for Project Discovery.
“Right there is quite a bit of panic as all of our restaurants and bars are closed, and our only two supermarkets are almost completely depleted of necessary items. People are sending me texts asking if we can help them if they get really hungry.”
The supermarkets are out of baby food. Barbara said that some people are cooking and pureeing the food they get from the Outreach Program to feed to infants. Food stamps haven’t run out yet, but they will by the end of the month. The last outreach event took place on March 9th so people are stocked for now, but Barbara expects that the Outreach Program “will be really slammed” in a few weeks.
About 130 households, between 500-550 people, rely on the Outreach Program – the second largest food bank in Orange County -- not including an additional 50 emergency boxes that the program distributes monthly. Many of those served are grandparents raising young children, and most do not drive.