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Hempstead awards funding to food banks, cover pandemic expenses

Hempstead is the only town in the country

Hempstead is the only town in the country to receive federal CARES relief funding. Credit: Newsday/Steve Pfost

Hempstead Town Board members approved more than $5 million in federal grant funding Tuesday, including more than $3 million to Long Island food banks.

Hempstead officials awarded $2.1 million from the federal stimulus CARES Act to Long Island Harvest and $1 million to the Interfaith Nutrition Network.

Councilmembers also voted to reimburse the town for $1 million to cover COVID-19 related expenses, including cleaning supplies. Board members also allocated up to $1 million in grant funding to the Melville-based H2M Architects + Engineers to make building and COVID remediations at town hall and town parks facilities and buildings, including partitions and touchless bathrooms. The architectural firm was selected by the town on an emergency contract so no bids were taken.

Hempstead was the only town in the nation to receive federal funding when the U.S. Treasury Department awarded $133 million in relief money in May based on the town’s population of more than 800,000. Nassau County received $103 million, and Suffolk County received $257.6 million in stimulus funding.

The town has already allocated more than $25 million in CARES funding, including $4 million to food banks, $4 million to local hospitals, $8 million to local colleges, $2 million to community testing sites and $2 million to the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency for personal protective equipment distribution.

The town keeps the federal grant in a separate account and requires receipts for expenses before reimbursement. Treasury officials have said the funding can be clawed back if it is misused. The funding must be spent by Dec. 30 or it will be returned to the Treasury Department. 

“Not anywhere else in New York or the nation is there a town as open and transparent to show exactly the drawdowns in funding,” Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said.

The funding to the Interfaith Nutrition Network will go toward PPE for all staff and volunteers to deliver food during the pandemic. The INN has been going through more than 1,800 masks, 615 pairs of gloves and 140 bottles of hand sanitizer every week, town officials said.

The INN and the Mary Brennan Soup Kitchen in Hempstead estimates serving more than 200,000 meals and more than 5,500 pantry to-go bags by the end of this year.

“The INN has been serving the Town of Hempstead’s most vulnerable population for more than 35 years, and we are proud to collaborate with them during this difficult time,” said Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby.

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