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Food bank to launch delivery program to the homebound

Lawyers from Sullivan Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo PC, along with members of the Long Island Hispanic Bar Association and other officials, donate thousands of pounds of food to Pronto of Long Island, a Suffolk county food pantry, on Wednesday.  Credit: Barry Sloan

The Hempstead Town awarded Long Island food bank Island Harvest $2.1 million to create a new food delivery program for homebound seniors, veterans and quarantined families.

Town board members on Wednesday agreed to pay for the program using some of the $133 million in federal CARES Act funds the town received to cover pandemic-related costs. The town previously gave $2 million to Long Island Cares, the Island’s other major food bank.

The money will be used to purchase food and hire a staff of 22 workers to package and distribute the goods to needy families, official said, adding that the demand on food distribution centers has jumped by 47%.

“There are still many people out there who don’t have the ability to get to these food banks,” Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said. “This program is going to reach those people, along with senior centers and get organizations food.”

Island Harvest will partner with 400 community groups each week to deliver food.

Island Harvest previously did home deliveries to veterans and seniors, but the new program will also serve residents who are home because of the pandemic and will not affect Island Harvest’s other food distribution.

“We recognized there are people across Long Island who need help and are homebound, choosing to stay home because they are in a vulnerable population and shouldn’t or couldn’t go to the supermarket,” Island Harvest president Randi Shubin Dresner said.

Other groups on Long Island are also tending to needy families. The Long Island Hispanic Bar Association and the Garden City-based law firm Papain Block McGrath Coffinas & Cannavo  distributed 2,000 pounds of food Wednesday to several pantries in Nassau and Suffolk counties that serve a Latino majority.

Donations were made to three groups: Iglesia Pentecostal de Hempstead,  Pronto of Long Island Inc., a nonprofit outreach center in Bay Shore, and Adelante’s Food for Thought pantry in Central Islip.

Pronto, which serves Bay Shore, Islip, Central Islip and Brentwood, has a partnership with Island Harvest and Long Island Cares and has seen demand at the food pantry quadruple since the pandemic started and has served more than 15,000 people in May, Pronto president Vivian Hart said. Donations included bottled water and toilet paper, as well rice and beans, which she said are a staple the Hispanic community relies on.

“There is a big need and if not for donations like this one, we’d have empty shelves,” Hart said. “This shipment will last us for a week. We rely on shipments and donations of food. We pray on a day we’re low we have enough for everybody and someone brings in a few bags of groceries.”

Hempstead Town Board members on Wednesday also approved contracts to purchase and deliver personal protective equipment, coronavirus testing for town employees and COVID-19-related improvements to town facilities.

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