The COVID-19 pandemic, our nations’ inability to reduce the spread of the virus, and the unprecedented loss of jobs and temporary closures of local businesses has led to a dramatic increase during the past four-months in the number of people turning to Long Island Cares, Inc.-The Harry Chapin Food Bank, and our network of 331 local food pantries that have been providing emergency food assistance within their local communities.
In the past four-months, Long Island Cares has seen on average, a 56.7% increase in the amount of food that we’re delivering to our member agencies, our five satellite locations, and our 18 pop-up food bank distribution centers. In addition, 94,361 people have turned to Long Island Cares requesting help in accessing food for the very first time. Although the numbers have been staggering, we’re also confident that Long Island Cares has the resources to help everyone that has turned to us and to our network of local food pantries for help for the remainder of this year, and into the first quarter of 2021.
Nutritious food is being delivered to Long Island Cares daily to help feed our neighbors in need. Some from federal and state government, some from the 80 retailers that donate to the Harry Chapin Food Bank every day, and even more as a result of the generous support we continue to receive from government, foundations, corporations and businesses, and of course from Long Islanders just like you that have supported us for the past 40 years. We have been purchasing an average of 1.7 million pounds of food each month just to respond to the impact of COVID-19, and in just the first seven months of this year, we’ve increased our food purchasing by 136.7%. Overall, we are bringing in 47.6% more food this year than during 2019.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been extremely difficult for our seniors in need of emergency food assistance. Our S.O.S. program delivers food to 1,906 seniors each month. Because of their fears related to the virus, our staff delivers boxes of food directly to their homes, and we spend time assessing any additional needs they might have. Our outreach staff has also been delivering ready-to-eat foods and personal hygiene products to an average of 450 homeless individuals each month. The majority of the homeless we assist live on the streets exposed to the elements and who find it difficult to socially distance. Our mobile food trucks have provided 4,011 children with a healthy, grab-n-go breakfast in their local neighborhoods during the pandemic. We’ve hired a total of 30 additional temporary staff members that have joined our 52 permanent staff, and along with working remotely, we are delivering food six-days per week while COVID-19 remains active. We’ve opened two new locations in Hauppauge and Bethpage just to pack emergency food boxes completely staffed by volunteers. In the coming months, Long Island Cares plans to open 1-2 new satellite locations and we’ve added 5 new drivers and five new vehicles to our fleet of 13 trucks, vans and SUV’s.
Long Island Cares is well-positioned to meet the increased need for emergency food support as a result of COVID-19 in the months ahead. As our region returns to some form of normalcy, we will be here for you with food, personal care items, household supplies and even pet food, and so will our 331 dedicated pantries throughout the region. We are in this response together and we will be here to help you in a smarter and safer way. Because in good times and in bad times – Long Island Cares.
PAULE T. PACHTER, A.C.S.W., L.M.S.W.
Chief Executive Officer