Josh Chapin speaks at Long Island Cares on Monday in...

Josh Chapin speaks at Long Island Cares on Monday in Bethpage, where a proposal was announced for a Harry Chapin Day in Nassau County. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Seeking to honor the late singer-songwriter and activist Harry Chapin's "remarkable mission to end hunger here and around the world," Legis. Arnold Drucker unveiled proposed legislation Monday to proclaim a day in his honor.

The day would kick off an annual food drive and raise awareness about food insecurity in Nassau County, Drucker, a Democrat from Plainview, said during a news conference at Essential Market in Bethpage, one of the distribution centers established by Long Island Cares–the Harry Chapin Food Bank. The food bank was founded by Chapin in 1980.

Drucker's proposed legislation is similar to the one passed by the Suffolk County Legislature in October that proclaimed Harry Chapin Day in that county on July 16, the anniversary of the musician's death in a fiery car crash on the Long Island Expressway near Exit 40 in Jericho in 1981. Chapin was 38.

The legislative measure needs approval from the Republican majority, but the legislature's presiding officer said such a resolution was not permitted under the body's rules.

"I'm imploring my colleagues on the [Republican] majority to recognize this is really not a political bill. This is a humanitarian bill, and that's something that Harry dedicated his life to," Drucker said.

In a statement, Richard Nicolello, the presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, said: “Since the Legislature began, our rules have prohibited 'sense of the Legislature resolutions,' such as the proposal to establish a Harry Chapin Day. However, we fully support a food drive to support residents in our communities here in Nassau County, and a resolution is not required.”

The proposed legislation in Nassau would declare Harry Chapin Day on July 16, and also establish an annual three-week food drive "to draw attention to food insecurity and economic challenges in Nassau County," the resolution states in part.

Drucker said this was a "crucial time." He cited statistics from Long Island Cares stating that 218,000 people on Long Island were food insecure. And in Nassau, one-third of food insecure people don't qualify for government nutrition assistance.

More recent statistics, from 2022, show that 250,000 Long Islanders are food insecure, Long Island Cares chief executive Paule T. Pachter said later in an interview, with about 60% of them in Suffolk and 40% in Nassau.

Drucker was joined by one of Harry Chapin's five children, Josh Chapin, Pachter and Long Island Cares chief government affairs officer Michael Haynes.

"I guess the question is why is there a need for Harry Chapin Day?" Pachter said. He said it was because Chapin was "someone right here on Long Island that was so well recognized, so highly respected and regarded as one of the most important people of the 20th century, for his work at trying to end hunger."

Josh Chapin said of his parents, "When they wanted to raise a family, they came out to Long Island, and made it their home." The Chapins lived in Huntington Bay.

"My dad brought relentless positive energy," Josh added. "He was inspired by love, and he was inspired by doing the right thing."

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