With more and more families on Long Island relying on food pantries these days and charitable donations dwindling, the greatest gift you can give during this holiday season is not a cool tech gadget or toy. Instead, it's a box of rice, a jar of peanut butter or canned tuna to a family in your own neighborhood who is struggling to make ends meet.
According to Paule T. Pachter, executive director of Long Island Cares, which has a network of 600 organizations, pantries and soup kitchens, the number of people hungry or considered food insecure as measured by the USDA, in the past year alone, has gone from "287,000 to 320,000." That's a a significant increase of 35,000 people on Long Island.
How to Help
- Donate to Local Houses of Worship
Like many parishes in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, in Malverne operates a food pantry in conjuction with the St. Vincent de Paul Society. They currently serve about 120 regular clients living in Malverne, Lakeview and a small part of West Hempstead, which they have carefully assessed to determine their needs.
During Thanksgiving and Christmas, the volunteers deliver turkeys and food baskets to the local families, and they operate a pantry twice a week, Tuesdays and Fridays, between 9:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m., which is located on the corner of Park Boulevard and Sheehy Place, across from the O.L.L. school.
Noreen Dalpiaz, one of the many volunteers with the society, says she's seen the number of people in need of the pantry increase in recent years, while the supply of food continues to diminish. "Like all of the charities, at this point we are still feeling the pinch of the economy," she says.
Each week, the parish publishes a list of items it needs most in its church bulletin. The most recent wish list includes:
- Canned Tuna
- Peanut Butter
- Canned Fruits
- Prepared Tomato Sauce
- Baked Beans
- Canned Black Beans
- White Potatoes
- Evaporated Milk
- Brown Rice
- Canned Corn
- Chicken Broth
- White Rice
Donations can be brought to the food pantry during its hours of operation or they can dropped off at the church on Sundays. If it's a large donation, you can contact the society by calling 516-599-1269 to make arrangements.
Our Lady of Peace Parish in Lynbrook also operates a food pantry, which receives donations every month from students in its Catholic elementary school, who take turns collecting non-perishable items. Donations can be dropped off in the designated basket located outside the school's main office or you can contact Sister Barbara Faber at the Parish Social Ministry Office by sending an email to SrBarbara@olplynbrook.com.
East Rockaway residents can donate to the Social Ministry of St. Raymond's Parish, located at 12 Roosevelt Ave. For more information, call 516-887-9197 between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Parish in West Hempstead reguarly helps local families who are in need with special programs throughout the year and during the holidays. One of the best ways residents can help right now is by purchasing a gift card to a local supermarket or big-box store like Target or Walmart, which the church can give to families who are struggling. This gives them choices when they go shopping so they can buy exactly what they need. The cards can be dropped off at the church rectory on Westminster Road. Call 516-489-8585 for details.
"The need continues to grow and an additional 13 families relied on the JCC’s food pantry in the past month, which now serves over 200 needy families through the Five Towns," said Donald Miller, a spokesman for the Five Towns JCC.
The pantry relies on the support of local volunteers, schools, synagogues and area supermarkets for monetary contributions and food donations. It's in most need of:
- Non-perishable Kosher Food
- Frozen Kosher Poultry
- Canned Fish
- Breakfast Cereal
- Shelf-stable Juices
To learn more, call 516-569-6733 or visit fivetownsjcc.org.
- Find a Drop Box
Island Harvest has several drop-off locations for local residents. For instance, in Malverne and West Hempstead, non-perishable food items can be placed in boxes located inside their local public libraries. New York Assemblyman Ed Ra's office will be delivering these to Island Harvest. The McDonald's on Merrick Road in Lynbrook has a box for canned and packaged products, and the Bristal Senior Assisted Living, also in Lynbrook, is accepting frozen turkeys and canned or packaged food. A full list of drop-off locations can be viewed here.
- Support the INN
The Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN), located at 211 Fulton Ave. in Hempstead, helps many local families with its soup kitchen and other programs. You can make a monetary contribution via the INN's Web site or by sending a check, or you can donate some of the items on their wish lists, which can be viewed here.