Giving Rye is a new occasional feature highlighting non-profits and community groups in and around the City of Rye. Today meet Bill Cusano of Meals On Main Street (MOMS).
Your Name: Bill Cusano
Organization: Meals On Main Street (MOMS)
Your role: Executive Director
MyRye.com: Tell us your organization’s mission.
Cusano: MOMS’ mission is to build community through food. We do this by empowering volunteer groups and organizations to provide healthy food choices to families in need in their community and in neighboring communities. Our programs include volunteer operated cooperative pantries; volunteer deliveries of frozen meals to community centers and low-income housing units; student-hosted community dining events at schools; community food drives and regular neighborhood food distributions from our mobile pantry trucks.
How long have you operated in Rye?
Cusano: Our home base is Port Chester, NY, where we have been operating for over 30 years, beginning as a soup kitchen and food pantry funded predominantly by Rye residents who remain loyal supporters of our mission. Our Rye connection has always been strong, and it has grown significantly over the years helping us respond to the requests for support from neighboring communities with families suffering from food insecurity throughout Westchester County.
What programming or work in Rye is the organization best known for?
- Our best-known program is our mobile pantry delivers a farmer’s market style choice pantry with fresh produce and other perishable foods to neighborhoods where food insecurity is a problem.
- Over the summer, our kitchen provides food to the Blue Skies summer camp at Christ’s Church.
- Crossroads of the Rye Women’s Club has been a strong sponsor and partner in our annual Holiday Shopping Spree, funding and supporting MOMS in giving moms with young children a day of holiday shopping at Target.
Looking forward to 2024, what will be your top initiatives?
- We are excited about the grand opening of our new headquarters building on Main Street in Port Chester, where we will kick off an exciting series of engaging volunteer programs focusing on healthy food choices, with interactive cooking classes and special events.
- We will also be opening a Food Depot, which will receive, weigh, sort and pack supermarket and food drive donations and purchased farm-fresh food for our mobile pantry, our kitchen and to help stock local pantries in schools and neighborhood community centers.
- MOMS is supporting local farms and community gardens in a big way, with a major campaign to engage the community in joining MOMS in purchasing Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares in local farms which supply weekly harvest boxes for our mobile pantry and kitchen for up to 16 weeks during the growing and harvest season next year. Over the last three years, MOMS has increased its purchase of CSA shares from 6 in 2021 to over 50 in 2023, helping farmers by guaranteeing a market for their crops, while offering the best quality produce to families in need.
Tell us about the population you serve and how they can get involved with your programming and services.
Cusano: Our primary service area is in Port Chester, where our mobile pantry trucks distribute over 20,000 pounds of food to over 1,000 families weekly. In addition, our trucks travel throughout the County providing food and meals to neighborhoods in need wherever we are asked to go. In total, we serve over 300,000 people per year between our kitchen and pantry operations.
Are you a 501(c)(3) non-profit with tax exempt status?
Cusano: We are a 501c3 organization with tax exempt status. We are registered as Caritas of Port Chester, Inc., but have been doing business as Meals On Main Street since 2019.
How can local residents support your organization?
Cusano: The best ways to support MOMS are to join us in our events, including our annual gala and Miles for MOMS fun run, and to stay connected by following us on social media, signing up for our newsletter, and visiting us when we open our new building, which has been a long time coming. We need to hear from you, so email us.
What local Rye residents and area businesses have been the longest, steadiest supporters of your organization?
Cusano: One of the amazing things about Rye is how totally connected the residents are, so I have to group these together as our steadiest and most dedicated supporters in Rye, Church of the Resurrection, Rye Presbyterian Church, Community Synagogue of Rye, Christ’s Church, the Rye Women’s Interfaith Committee and the Rye Women’s Club. I don’t want to forget the amazing support we get from the students, parents and teachers of the schools in Rye who bring us joy with every visit.
Tell us about you:
How long have you been in your current role?
Cusano: Seven and a half years
Is the role full time or part time? Paid or volunteer?
Cusano: Full time, paid
How would your friends and family describe you in one word?
|Coke or Pepsi?
|Regular or diet?
|Action movie or rom com?
|Cook, order in or eat out?
|Dog, cat or no pet?
|Balsamic vinaigrette or ranch?
|Ruffles Original, Lay’s Barbeque or Funyuns?
|Still, sparkling or tap?
What is the kindest thing someone has ever done for you?
Cusano: My wife and I were heading home from Yale New Haven Hospital where she is being treated for cancer and we stopped at Cracker Barrel for something to eat. At one point, my wife became emotional and started to cry while talking to our grandson on the phone. A short while later, the waitress came over and told us a man at a nearby table had paid for our meal. I saw that he had left so I ran out to the parking lot to thank him.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why, and who would you take with you?
Cusano: My wife and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back to France, especially Paris, but also throughout the country on river cruises. The scenery and culture provide us with a feeling of peace and tranquility that make the trip fabulous.
What is your favorite streaming / TV series?
Cusano: Murder In… (French)
What is your favorite movie?
Cusano: It’s A Wonderful Life
Where do you live in Rye and how many years have you lived in the City?
Cusano: My wife and I now live in Greenwich, CT. We moved here when we downsized from our home in Port Chester, where we lived for 18 years.