Food Distribution Partner Spotlight – Child Development Council

Written by Nicholas Jayne, March 2021

Partner Organization: Child Development Council of Central New York

Interviewees: Melissa Perry, Family Services Director

Brittnay Vanderhoof, Family Support Specialist

Michael Hoit, Family Services Coordinator

Location: 609 W Clinton St, Ithaca, NY 14850

Partner Background: 

Incorporated in 1967, the Child Development Council of Central New York works to promote the healthy development of children and families at home, in childcare, and in the community. 

The organization has two primary programs: Child Care Resource and Referral, which supports both providers and recipients of child care, and Family Services, which focuses on child development, parenting skills education, and connecting families to additional resources. 

How did the CDC get involved with FDN?

The CDC has long worked closely with FDN. Along with delivering boxes of food from FDN to food insecure families, the CDC also provides boxes of donated food at their baby supply drive-throughs in both Ithaca and Cortland. 

What kinds of donations does FDN provide to the CDC?

FDN provides the CDC with a wide variety of foods: fruits, vegetables, baked goods, dairy products, even coffee. The CDC goes above providing the bare essentials, often customizing food boxes to meet the tastes and dietary needs of individual families.

What do you enjoy about being an FDN partner?

“It’s just so nice to be able to provide somebody with something they need,” Melissa says. “I think FDN has been really flexible with us throughout the relationship that we’ve had. Being able just to go in and pack boxes for families based on their needs… that’s an incredible opportunity that doesn’t really happen with other places.”

“What has been really great,” Brittnay says, “is that Meaghan [Sheehan Rosen, FDN’s Coordinator] always goes out of her way to connect us to resources around the community that are (also) donating food. She always thinks of us when it comes to these donations and these families (and us) appreciate it so much.”

Memorable FDN experience:

“I remember one time,” Melissa recalls, “we got some birthday cakes, and this one family was so excited because it was their son’s birthday the next day. They weren’t able to buy a cake for him and we just happened to have this birthday cake. This family was just so thrilled and it was really nice.”

“We were getting a lot of muffins and cookies,” Michael says, “(Cars of participant families) would often have children in the backseat. So I would come out with some of the food (visible), but I’d have the cookies hidden behind my back to let the moms know (that I had treats without showing the kids). Now, as soon as I come up to the door, the kids in the backseat are like ‘Muffins? Cookies?’”

Little known fact about the CDC:

The CDC has worked with other non-profits, like Family Reading Partnership, to provide families with books, toiletries, clothing, and toys during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organization is also appreciative that many assisted community members decide to return the favor, or provide donations of their own when they are able to do so.