Food Banks are on the Front Line to Feed Ukrainian Refugees and the Hungry in Eastern Europe: Long Islanders Can Help in These Efforts
Once Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in a barbaric show of military force, the United States and its NATO allies knew the government and people of Ukraine would face a humanitarian crisis the free world hasn’t witnessed since World War II. Since the start of the invasion on February 25, the Ukrainian people have been subjected to bombs falling on their neighborhoods, fires engulfing their hospitals, and hundreds of dead bodies lining their streets. As more than 2 million Ukrainian women, children and seniors create a mass exodus from their homeland to countries such as Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, and other safe havens, we knew that safe shelter, medicine, and food would be needed to support these new refugees and the brave men and soldiers they left behind to fight their war with Putin’s army.
The situation in Ukrainian cities like Kharkiv, Kakhovka, Sumy, and Kyiv is desperate, with local organizations and the Kyiv City Charity Foundation Food Bank beginning to run out of food. Without the support of the United States and our allies to supply Ukraine with food, personal hygiene products, baby food, canned fish, meat, vegetables, dry milk, pet food, soups, flour, vegetable oil, cleaning products, diapers, sugar, tea, and other staples, people will die from malnutrition and hunger. Food supplies from abroad can be gathered at key locations near the western border of Ukraine and help prevent hunger. And from there, be redistributed throughout countries where the millions of refugees are located.
While I recognize and applaud the numerous efforts on Long Island to collect coats, medical supplies, food, and water for Ukraine, it is critical that logistics are in place to deliver this support to the Ukrainian people as soon as possible. Several volunteer organizations are already reporting that the flow of supplies for Ukraine have been overwhelming, and delays getting the humanitarian aide to where it is most needed are occurring. That is why Long Island Cares, The Harry Chapin Food Bank, has made a monetary donation to our colleagues at The Global Food Banking Network. We encourage other organizations and Americans to do the same. By supporting The Global Food Banking Network, they will help with efforts to support the European Food Banks Federation (FEBA) to respond to the hunger crisis in Ukraine and surrounding countries. These humanitarian efforts are similar to the coordination that Feeding America led during Hurricane Sandy, COVID-19, and other national disasters, allowing the regional food banks respond to the increase in emergency food assistance.
As the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues and intensifies, Long Islanders wanting to send aide to Ukraine should do so in any way they can afford. If you specifically want to support efforts to provide food and supplies to the food banks in eastern Europe, you might start by visiting foodbanking.org or eurofoodbank.org.
Paule T. Pachter, A.C.S.W., L.M.S.W.
Chief Executive Officer
Long Island Cares, Inc.