Armonk Soccer Club Collects for Food Bank

Byram Hills teens organize cereal drive for the hungry

By Brian J. Howard • bjhoward@lohud.com • The Journal News - October 25, 2009

ARMONK - Tara Siegel wheeled her little girl’s stroller into the main hallway of H.C. Crittenden Middle School, where parents were lining up to have their children’s soccer league photos taken.

And like many of them, Siegel made a quick stop at a table lined with cereal boxes of all brands. She added to the boxes, which are bound for the Food Bank of Westchester food pantry.

"I’m not surprised at all," she said of statistics showing affluent Westchester is home to 200,000 people who fit the definition of hungry. 

The Byram Hills High School Food Bank Club, founded by senior Jackson Scher, organized the cereal drive here, coincidentally on Armonk United soccer club’s photo day. Fifty of the food bank club members will be collecting at area soccer games and at IBM Armonk on Sunday.

"It’s for a good cause," Siegel said of her contribution. "We can all certainly afford a box of cereal." 

For those who can’t, however, cereal is typically the first thing they reach for at the food bank, Amy Scher of Armonk, Jackson’s mother, said. 

A similar drive built around the local soccer club was held in Somers, she said, and more are planned in Chappaqua and Larchmont. Children can easily grasp the idea of other children being hungry, and they’re eager to help.

"It’s a different kind of hunger," she said of those doing without in New York’s tony northern suburbs. "It’s one working parent. It’s not what you see on TV. It’s the working poor." 

It’s an old problem, too, she added, but the current economic downtown has exacerbated the need.

The club is aiming for 800 boxes of cereal, a rough goal based on the 800 families in the soccer club.

"I kind of made a joke about how it’s Westchester and how many people could be hungry," said organizer and Byram Hills senior Jordan Salik after Scher’s son told him about the idea. "But he brought me the facts."

Among those facts were more than one-third of Westchester’s hungry are under 18; only 5 percent of the hungry are homeless; and most of those who need food aid have at least one working adult in their household.

The reality wasn’t lost on Diane Kurzer, a mother of three from Bedford.

"I’m surprised that there is hunger still in Westchester," Kurzer said. "But obviously the need has to be filled. If I could donate milk, I would donate milk."