The inception of Food Day on Oct. 24 placed a national spotlight on nutrition, and the topic hits close to home for local food pantries that are in the number of people in need of survival basics.
Parish Outreach Director Diana Mongan emphasized the severe need for food and other goods in the Bayport-Blue Point area. In recent months, Mongan has witnessed an uptick in consistent pantry visitors, leading her to believe that families and individuals in need of financial assistance has risen, and will continue to rise.
“Due to these difficult economic times, we are experiencing a sharp increase in the amount of people coming to our food pantry for help,” she said.
As the economy continues to wobble, as more people run out of ways to stretch a paycheck, it’s no longer just the permanently poor who need help, the pantries say.
Priest Farrell Graves at , located on Middle Road adjacent to the Bayport-Sayville border, reports that St. Ann’s is seeing the same increase in need as Our Lady of the Snow.
“We’ve had the same trend, yes,” he said. “I know some of the people that are coming in [for food] have jobs, but they’re just not able to make ends meet, they need help. The numbers have just been growing since the economy has gotten worse.”
Many food assistance operations get supplies from such places as Island Harvest, Food Not Bombs or Long Island Cares -- The Harry Chapin Food Bank. Island Harvest and Food Not Bombs specialize in collecting and redistributing food from restaurants and other sources. LI Cares uses corporate support to buy and redistribute food. They also take donations, as do food pantries.
Paule T. Pachter, executive director of Long Island Cares, has his finger on the pulse of what Long Island food-assistance programs need and why.
“What we’re seeing is about a 10.5 percent increase across our network of 600 organizations, pantries, soup kitchens,” Pachter said. “The fact is that 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 significant increase of 35,000 people” on Long Island.
It’s not only non-perishables that Blue Point's Our Lady of the Snow outreach is in need of, but other basic goods, according to Mongan.
“We are in desperate need of all food items, toiletries and paper goods,” she said.
Food Day 2011 is sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the nonprofit group that has led successful fights for food labeling, better nutrition, and safer food since 1971. According to the website dedicated to Food Day, the annual event will be people-powered and does not accept funding from government or corporations—though restaurants, supermarkets, and others are encouraged to observe Food Day in their own ways.
Would you like to donate to a local food pantry?
Our Lady of the Snow's outreach office is located in the white cottage, in the large church parking lot, 175 Blue Point Ave., Blue Point.
The Food pantry and outreach hours are Mon-Thur 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Please call the outreach office at 363-2417 with any questions.
St. Ann's Church is located at 257 Middle Rd., Sayville. Please leave non-perishable food in the red wagon located in Parish Hall, behind the church. The pantry is open Monday, 10 a.m. - noon and Thursdays at the same time. Non-perishable food donations are accepted Mon-Fri, 9:30 a.m. - 2:30 a.m. and Sunday, 8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. Any questions please call the church office at 589-6522.