As you might imagine, the timeframe of October through December is one of the busiest times for food banks across the country. This is the time of year when many people and businesses on Long Island are thinking about ways to help those in need, donate to their favorite causes, and we’re generally in a giving spirit. There are literally thousands of nonprofit charitable organizations throughout Long Island that are well deserving of your support, and I hope that as you read this column you’ll think about supporting those causes that are near and dear to you and your family by volunteering your time, attending a special event, or even making a year-end donation.
Recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that in New York State the number of people eligible for assistance and considered to be food insecure has declined by 2%. What that means for Long Island is that, approximately 6,000 people may not require the services of our emergency food network, leaving 310,000 Long Islanders still visiting their local food pantry, soup kitchen and the regional food bank on a regular basis. Hopefully, more people are finding employment, maybe some have decided to move out of our region, or something has improved their ability to be more self-sufficient. What we do know is that some of our local soup kitchens continue to report an increase in the number of people coming to them for a healthy meal, and that the number of people accessing Long Island Cares’ three community-based satellite locations continues to be on-track to remain at 24,000 people receiving emergency food through the regional food bank’s hunger assistance and humanitarian service centers. We also see increases in the number of seniors participating in the Meals on Wheels program, and our own Mobile School Pantry program that provides weekend food for children in the Brentwood School District and the Wyandanch School District has now been expanded into the Riverhead School District.
The number of people in need of emergency food support on Long Island although minimally reduced, is still quite significant. There are too many children, seniors, Veterans, homeless, disabled, immigrants, and others living in poverty in our region, and many of them deserve your support this holiday season and throughout the year. At a time when so many people across America are suffering in Florida, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico as a result of the recent hurricanes, we as a nation are coming to the aide of people in need. Long Islanders have a very rich history of giving. This was very clear in 1980 when Harry Chapin founded Long Island Cares as the first food bank in our region, and it continues today, thirty-seven years later when private donations to our organization account for a significant percentage of our annual budget.
So, will you help provide a holiday meal to our neighbors in need this year? Of course you will, and you can do it by visiting your local food pantry, soup kitchen, senior center, Head Start program, mental health treatment program, Veterans Services agency, LGBT program, drug treatment and rehabilitation program, day care center, disabilities day habilitation program, special education school, or going online to: www.unitedwayli.org, www.guidestar.org, www.charitynavigator.org, which is also where you can find more information about our local nonprofit charities, including Long Island Cares-The Harry Chapin Food Bank. Let’s make the holiday happy for our families and another family who might be in need.
As published in the HIA-LI Reporter, November 2017