Pictured Above (l-r): Food Pantry Manager Lily Dougherty-Johnson, Senior Client Support Specialist Helen Lopez, Volunteer Steve Schnee, Executive Director Cathy Demeroto and Client Support Specialist Maria Cianfrogna of Community Action Southold Town distributed food outside their Greenport food pantry Friday morning.

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As the East End prepares for a statewide stay-at-home order for non-essential workers that goes into effect Monday, employees and volunteers at food pantries are working overtime to make sure everyone has the food they need.

Community Action Southold Town (CAST), which has been helping North Forkers in need since 1965, is on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic — as of Friday afternoon, March 20, there were 64 confirmed cases of the virus in this small community, where the first case in Suffolk County was reported March 8.

“We’re here for the long haul. Obviously, we’re on the front lines of the outbreak. We expect to be hit hard here, and we’re here to serve the community as best we can,” said CAST Executive Director Cathy Demeroto, who said the pantry is “definitely seeing an increase [in clients], including new people we’ve never served before.”

Ms. Demeroto said the pantry, which is receiving clients outside at the back door of the building while volunteers wear masks and gloves, will be open to all Southold Town residents who say they are in need of food during the crisis.

The food pantry, at 316 Front Street, is open Mondays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon, and Tuesdays from 3 to 6 p.m.

CAST’s Feed-A-Kid food distribution program has overwhelmed the agency’s Front Street headquarters, and is now moving to two distribution locations, at the Southold Presbyterian Church at 53100 Main Road in Southold and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church at 768 Main Street in Greenport, which will operate at the same hours as the food pantry.

CAST’s Mobile Food Pantry is also still running, providing deliveries to those who are homebound or facing transportation barriers.

Families in need can sign up by calling CAST at 631.477.1717 or by emailing info@castsoutholdtown.org to get a Feed-A-Kid bag once per week or to set up mobile food pantry delivery.

Ms. Demeroto said CAST has been having the same difficulties consumers are having getting much-needed food and supplies. Peapod, which had made deliveries to the food pantry, is overwhelmed with demand for its services and is no longer delivering to the food pantry, but Island Cares and Long Island Harvest have continued to deliver food.

CAST employees are shopping at grocery stores on the North Fork and in Riverhead several times a week, and are having difficulty stocking up on dairy products, beans, pasta, sauce, granola bars and personal care products like diapers, feminine hygiene products, soap, toothpaste and shampoo.

“We’re in desperate need of face masks, and of hand sanitizer, for both our staff and our clients,” said Ms. Demeroto.

Local restaurants are also working to prepare hot to-go meals for the food pantry. CJ’s American Grill in Mattituck was preparing turkey dinners for takeout Saturday afternoon from 3 to 5 p.m., and American Beech at 300 Main Street in Greenport plans to work with CAST serve hot meals to go at its restaurant on Wednesdays from 4 to 7 p.m.

CAST has been overwhelmed with people looking to volunteer, and is planning to have a volunteer web page up and running on its website early this coming week.

“Obviously, we’re concerned about losing staff or volunteers to illness, but the community has really stepped up, and so many people are volunteering,” said Ms. Demeroto.

The best way to help CAST during this time is to make a monetary donation to enable them to purchase items that are most needed. You can donate online at www.castsoutholdtown.org/donate or mail a check to CAST at P.O. Box 159, Greenport, NY 11944.

The CAST office is not open to the public at this time for the safety of its staff and clients.

Helping OLA

OLA of Eastern Long Island, which provides services to the East End’s Latino community, is looking for volunteers from Riverhead to East Hampton to take responsibility for helping families in need.

“Volunteers are needed from Riverhead to East Hampton at the moment. We have families in crisis needing food,” OLA posted on its Facebook page Saturday. “We are connecting one volunteer each to a family in need. The aim is to have them in your planning week by week. Maybe they just need help accessing the food pantry if they can’t drive or if a mom is homebound with young kids who are not in school. If volunteers must help with buying food basics, OLA will reimburse. We are working with families we know are in crises, with one to two days of food left. Not all families can get to the child’s school to pick up breakfast and lunches.”

OLA is asking volunteers not to make physical contact with the families in crisis, but to drop off food at their doors and make phone calls or text to maintain weekly communication.

They’re asking prospective volunteers to send them a private Facebook message or call 631.899.3441 and leave a message with your name and number and town.

Southampton Helps Youth in Flanders

The Town of Southampton Youth Bureau will be providing Grab-N-Go Healthy Snack Kits for local youth at the Flanders Community Center, 655 Flanders Road. They can be accessed by pulling up in front of the main entrance of the Flanders Community Center and taking a snack kit on Mondays and Fridays from 4 to 6 p.m. and Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. For more information, call 631.702.2425 or visit www.southamptontownny.gov/youthbureau.

Grab and Go meals are also available to all Riverhead Central School District students by visiting any Riverhead elementary school weekdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Families with students in all grade levels are welcome to participate.

Sag Harbor

The Sag Harbor Food Pantry “is working with a small and able crew, and if you can help with their work the best way to donate is to send a check to Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry,  PO Box 1241, Sag Harbor, NY 11963,” according to the Sag Harbor Partnership.

The pantry is a 501c3 non-profit organization and your donation is tax-deductible. 

The pantry, in the Old Whalers’ Church at 44 Union Street, provides emergency food assistance to residents of Sag Harbor School district and is open Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to noon.

The pantry has also adjusted its operations due to the coronavirus, serving clients outdoors in alphabetical order by their last names. People whose last names begin with A or B can pick up supplies at 10 a.m., C-H at 10:30 a.m., J-O at 11 a.m., P-R at 11:15 a.m. and S-Y at 11:30 a.m. New clients will be served beginning at 11:45 a.m., and pantry staff are asking clients to wait in their cars until the designated times.

The Sag Harbor clients get fresh meat, dairy and produce, but they are currently short of simple breakfast cereals, long grain dried white rice, tomato sauce and canned tomatoes, dried black beans, dried pasta, dried or canned dog and cat food. They don’t need canned soup or vegetables or volunteers, as they are trying to operate with a limited staff for safety.

If you have the above goods, you can leave them in a big blue container on the west side of the church.

East Hampton Food Pantry 

The East Hampton Food Pantry will now be open on a biweekly basis instead of a weekly basis, to protect the health of its volunteers. 

The East Hampton pantry at 159 Pantigo Road will be open on Tuesdays, March 24, April 7 and April 21, and will be open every second Tuesday of the month from then on, until further notice.

The pantry will only serve one recipient at a time in the building, and, weather permitting, may bring food to people in their cars. For the next three pantry dates, clients will receive two weeks worth of food. 

The Amagansett satellite location at St. Michaels Senior Housing at 486 Montauk Highway will close after one more distribution date, on March 24 from 4 to 6 p.m., after which its clients can go to the pantry in East Hampton.

The pantry is in need of monetary donations, which can be made at easthamptonfoodpantry.org or by calling 631.324.2300.

For Seniors

Beginning Monday, March 23, East Hampton residents ages 60 and over will be able to pick up five frozen meals curbside at the East Hampton Town Senior Center at 128 Springs-Fireplace Road.

Residents need to call ahead to arrange for pickup, or human services staff can drop the meals off at the their residence. The Human Services Department is also referring clients to Meals on Wheels, which provides a sandwich for lunch and a hot meal for dinner.

East Hampton Town has been collaborating with the local food pantries, school districts, childcare centers and volunteer organizations such as East End Cares. Should folks who utilize our local food pantries not be able to pick up their groceries, Human Services staff is also picking up and delivering bags of food to the clients of the local food pantries. The Human Services Department can be reached at 631.329.6939 to make arrangements.

In Southold:

Citizens over the age of 60 in Southold with underlying heath conditions who may need assistance with meals are encouraged to contact the human resource center at 631.298.4460. Community liaison Denis Noncarrow can be reached at 631.765.5806 with any questions.

Southold Human Resource Center staff are also making daily morning phone calls to assure the well-being of seniors in Southold who live alone. For more information, call the center at 631.298.4460.

We will update this post with more information as it becomes available.

Read our ongoing coverage of the coronavirus crisis.

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Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

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