During the holiday season, LongIsland.com gets many emails from people asking where they can volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry. Many people are aware of the hunger problem on Long Island, but what they do not realize is that it is an ongoing need.
Long Island New York represents a diverse background of people. Close to three million people call Long Island home. Adjacent to NYC, this region has the highest per capita income for New York state. Median family income is also considerably higher than state median income in both Nassau and Suffolk County NY. While this newly termed "techno suburb" enjoys the latest and greatest in gadgets, luxury items and technology, over 250,000 Long Island residents go hungry each year.
The needy represent close to ten percent of the people that live on Long Island. The majority of them are women, children and seniors. This is a sizable portion of a relatively affluent community. The hungry rely on food Emergency Food Programs (EFP) including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters as well as government assistance.
Realizing the hunger problem on Long Island, EFPs have been established for quite some time. Most of them are non-profit groups, funded by donations and staffed by volunteers. Finding the resources to meet the growing need is a constant challenge for many of these organizations.
Some government funded food assistance programs are available including Food Stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Child Food Nutrition and Public Assistance Programs including Welfare. Budget cuts and discontinuation of certain programs has led to an increased number of people looking to local food assistance programs for help.
Island Harvest is a food rescue organization that collects from those who have surplus food and delivers it to those who need it. Food is delivered to hundreds of soup kitchens, food pantries, and food assistance programs across Long Island.
Long Island Cares is a food bank, providing emergency food where needed. They also deliver to hundreds of food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, day care centers and senior centers.
Island Harvest and Long Island Cares worked together on a hunger study for Nassau and Suffolk Counties. Hunger 2006: The Local Report details the growing problem and statistics on Long Island, NY.
"The face of hunger is the same as your face and mine, and not some homeless person", says Randi Shubin Dresner, President and CEO of Island Harvest.
Long Island Cares and Island Harvest are just two of many organizations that assist needy families. Donations from individuals, businesses and community groups help to support their efforts.
There are thousands of people on Long Island that need to eat -- everyday.
Are feeling the need to feed yet?
If so, please drop off a can of food at the local food drive, volunteer your free time or make a simple donation.
199 Second Street
Mineola, NY 11501
Long Island Cares Inc.
10 Davids Drive
Hauppauge, NY 11788
Thank you for reading my rantings.