As more and more East Enders are out of work and waiting for economic stimulus funding to come through, food pantries have been overwhelmed by demand.
Perhaps most notably, hundreds of people descended on Stotzky Park in Riverhead last Friday for a food distribution by Island Harvest, an island-wide food resource agency.
Informal community groups on both the North and South forks are working to meet the demand for food, and to help people who can’t leave the house to go shopping.
A new Facebook group, NoFo Community Cares, is looking to augment the work being done by Community Action Southold Town, which runs a very active food pantry in Greenport but is limited to residents of Southold Town.
Duncan Kennedy, the owner of Jamesport’s Duncan Inn and one of the organizers of NoFo Community Cares, says there is a great need for food on the west end of the North Fork, which is in Riverhead Township and far from CAST’s food pantry.
He’s partnered with Tijuana Fulford of The Butterfly Effect Project, Melissa Caggiano of Jamesport Farm Brewery and Danielle LaScala of the Mattituck Florist to help organize food distribution on weekends at Jamesport Farm Brewery at 5873 Sound Avenue and at Riverhead’s First Baptist Church at 1018 Northville Turnpike.
“Our goal is to provide non-perishable foods for those that are in need.
As a community that cares, we can ensure that no one goes hungry at this time,” say the organizers.
Non-perishable food items can be donated in NoFo Community Cares’ collection bins at The Duncan Inn every day until 5 p.m., at the Main Road Biscuit Company, Jamesport Farm Brewery, The Village Cheese Shop and aMano Restaurant in Mattituck, Our Little Free Pantry in the Adams Street parking lot in Greenport, the 1943 Pizza Bar and Ellen’s On Front in Greenpot, at Farmer Jenn’s farmstand on Peconic Bay Boulevard in Aquebogue, at the East End Beacon’s newsstand by the New Suffolk Post Office on First Street in New Suffolk and at 48 18th Street in Wading River.
Volunteers are also needed to help distribute food. More details are being updated continuously on the NoFo Community Cares Facebook page.
CAST Seeks Volunteers
Community Action Southold Town, at 316 Front Street in Greenport, has been busy distributing food in response to the crisis, and is operating its food pantry three days a week, on Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon and Tuesdays from 3 to 6 p.m. Donations may be dropped off during pantry hours or on Wednesdays and Thursdays between 9:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
CAST has also partnered with American Beech Restaurant, at 300 Main Street, to distribute prepared meals at the restaurant on Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m.
The agency is distributing Feed-A-Kid bags of food three days a week at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Greenport and the First Presbyterian Church in Southold (the same hours as the food pantry.) For more information on CAST’s work, call 631.477.1717 or visit castsoutholdtown.org. They are also looking for volunteers.
SoFo & Clamshell Ask for Five Bucks
Another informal group, East End Cares, is connecting volunteers on the South Fork with opportunities for them to help do shopping or run errands for residents who can’t get out of their homes.
East End Cares and East Hampton’s Clamshell Foundation have joined forces to ask everyone in the South Fork community to donate $5 on the Clamshell Foundation’s website to raise money for the South Fork’s food pantries, which are seeing twice the amount of traffic they usually see.
The East Hampton Food Pantry’s next distribution date is Tuesday, April 21 from 1 to 6 p.m. at 159 Pantigo Road in East Hampton. The pantry is asking seniors to come at 1 p.m. More details are at easthamptonfoodpantry.org.
The Springs Food Pantry at 5 Old Stone Highway is open on Wednesdays from 4 to 6 p.m. For more details, visit www.springsfoodpantry.com. The Sag Harbor Food Pantry is at the Old Whalers’ Church at 44 East Union Street on Tuesday mornings from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Clients are served alphabetically by last name. More details are at www.sagharborfoodpantry.org.
The Montauk Food Pantry is at 67 South Essex Street in the lower level of St. Therese Parrish Center. Pickup is every other Tuesday, with the next two dates on April 28 and May 12 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For more details, visit www.montaukfoodpantry.org.
Help The Bridgehampton Rec Kids
The Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreation Center, whose mission is to provide services for underserved youth in Bridgehampton, is distributing food.
“The families we serve are economically fragile. Over half our families have lost income. This is a CRISIS and we are asking for your help now and for our future,” said Bridgehampton Child Care Center Executive Director Bonnie Cannon in an appeal to potential donors in mid-April.
“Our food pantry is operating smoothly and is serving our families twice a week. This past week we were able to provide food for 25 families, which is 82 individuals. The families have been very grateful for the help in this difficult time,” she added. “Thirty of our after-school kids are now participating in our online learning. Only 10 were connected the first week. All but one now have a computer on loan at home, and we have only a few more homes in need of internet. Thank you, Altice and Bridgehampton School District.”
“I was able to individually connect with our teens, their families and our college students to assess their needs. Eleven families need food. This includes 56 individuals. Twenty-two have lost income. Some households have lost all their income,” she added. BCCRC is accepting donations online here.
OLA Reaches Out En Español
In response to crisis needs from some of the most vulnerable families on the East End, OLA of Eastern Long Island has been coordinating a large-scale volunteer based food sourcing and delivery response for families who are in dire need of food.
Many do not have transportation, have young children home from school, are disabled, are pregnant, and/or have compromised health needs. Many families have as little as 1-2 day’s worth of food.
“These are families that never needed help before but due to the Covid 19 crisis have found themselves in dire need. OLA is assigning one volunteer per family to assist that family in sourcing and obtaining food for a week,” said OLA Executive Director Minerva Perez. “This is an ongoing effort. In many cases, volunteers are shopping for families. OLA is covering some of the grocery costs for most critical needs. We are serving close to 100 people on a weekly basis with this initiative. We have close to 30 volunteers who are Latino and non Latino. We have received much needed private funds to help support this effort. Maria Bacardi, East Hampton local artist and singer, is one of our generous local supporters who is helping to make this possible. We have also received large food donations from the Triune Baptist Church in Sag Harbor. We are in this together.”
Home-based volunteers are working to share up to date information on access to food pantries, but not all pantries are operational. OLA is also advocating at the Suffolk County level on possible food crisis distribution plans.
“Towns and villages are asked to please share information related to food and other critical local Covid updates in Spanish and English. Communication is key,” added Ms. Perez