Hauppauge, July 1, 2021
Paule T. Pachter
Chief Executive Officer
It’s hard to imagine that forty years have gone by since our founder, Harry Chapin died in an automobile accident on the Long Island Expressway. Four decades later we’re still focusing our efforts to end hunger and food insecurity, and find solutions to address why poverty, immigration status, racial discrimination and other root causes of hunger still exist. As we commemorate the 40th anniversary of Harry Chapin’s passing along with our partners at WHY Hunger and The Harry Chapin Foundation, we honor and remember who he was; a singer/songwriter, Grammy award winning recording artist, social activist, husband, father, brother and as Newsday proclaimed him, “One of the most important Long Islanders of the 20th Century.”
Harry was a force that greeted the world and went on to create concrete solutions to end hunger. In 1975 he co-founded WHY Hunger with Bill Ayres and in 1981 he established Long Island Cares, Inc. –The Harry Chapin Food Bank. Both organizations were built on the ideological principles of eradicating hunger and the premise that access to healthy and nutritious food is a basic human right. Both our organizations carry on his legacy to this day.
Harry’s passion and advocacy to create solutions to end hunger were so significant because in his words “it is the most basic area, the fact is hunger also involves ecology, it involves energy, it involves women’s rights, it involves economics, politics and it involves the future of our own kind”. Harry’s ability to see this and understand how all of these issues are so closely interconnected made him a man who was ahead of his time. His advocacy work lives on today as we continue to focus increased attention toward identifying the root causes of hunger, which are related directly to economic justice, limited access to nutritious and healthy foods, racial inequality, access to healthcare and more. Today, a growing number of food banks across the United States are engaged in high-level discussions about addressing the root causes of hunger but, it was Harry Chapin who established a nonprofit organization forty years ago to do exactly that in addition to providing emergency food assistance to Long Islanders in need.
Harry had a vision and he acted upon it by establishing Why Hunger and Long Island Cares. He also was ahead of his time when he directed both organizations to respond to the root causes of hunger and food insecurity as a way to help those in need lift themselves out of the cycle of unemployment, poverty and racial discrimination, all issues dominating the current news cycles. It’s extremely rewarding to all of us at Long Island Cares to see the attention that Harry’s work continues to attract over four decades since his untimely and tragic passing.
In the last year Harry Chapin has been the subject of at least three books, an acclaimed documentary film featuring Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel and Bob Geldorf, and a stage play currently in production.