Immigrants And Refugees
Neediest Cases

They Invest in the Land to Build the Future

Peter Moore at the food pantry he manages in Rockland County. Credit: Nathan Bajar for The New York Times

In collaboration with the New York Times’ Neediest Cases Fund, we present this story of a gardener and food pantry in Rockland County.

This article is part of a series recounting the stories of people who received help from nonprofit organizations supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.

In Rockland County, Peter Moore is also turning to the earth to fill in nutritional gaps. He cultivates a 70-by-50-foot garden that grows produce like zucchini, eggplant and green pepper.

Its yield of 700 to 800 pounds of fresh vegetables per season supplements the food pantry he runs, which is part of Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland. The organization is an affiliate of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, another beneficiary of The Neediest Cases Fund.

He often harvests the produce about an hour before the clients arrive, guaranteeing that the families “get fresher produce than you would get in Whole Foods.”

Mr. Moore has managed the pantry for 12 years; before that he was a national sales manager at BMW. He said the pantry is now serving 500 families a month, up from fewer than 200 six years ago — an increase that he attributed to factors such as the inflation and the coronavirus pandemic.

“They’re feeling the full brunt of it,” he said, “but they still have to feed their kids and feed themselves.”

With food budgets stretched thin, Mr. Moore explained, he felt pressure to keep up with rising demand. To support the garden, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York allocated $525 from The Fund for tools, garden supplies, seeds and plantings, which will enrich next season’s harvest, he said.

With the aid provided by The Neediest Cases Fund, Mr. Moore hopes to keep enhancing the experience and the quality of the produce, sticking to his principle that he doesn’t need to have the best pantry in the world, just a better pantry than the day before.

Read about other stories in this article on the New York Times’ website.