Officials from Island Harvest and the Town of Hempstead discuss...

Officials from Island Harvest and the Town of Hempstead discuss the federally funded food distribution program on Wednesday.  Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Hempstead Town officials are awarding more than $470,000 in federal funding to the Island Harvest food bank for the distribution of boxes of food to seniors, veterans and homebound residents through the holidays.

The town donated more than $5 million to Long Island food banks last year, delivering more than one million meals, Supervisor Don Clavin said, including $2.1 million to Island Harvest for deliveries to homebound residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Town officials and food bank officials announced Wednesday they were renewing the program for seniors, veterans and residents unable to leave their home or uncomfortable grocery shopping during the pandemic. The program is set to run through Dec. 31.

The "No One Goes Hungry in Hempstead" campaign partners Island Harvest with school districts including Roosevelt, Hempstead, Freeport, Baldwin, Levittown, Lawrence and Elmont to reach more families.

"Island Harvest has saved lives and delivered food to those with food insecurity and those in need," Clavin said. "The pandemic has not disappeared overnight. There are still thousands of people facing food insecurity on a daily basis on Long Island."

The funding is part of $133 million awarded to the town last year through the federal CARES Act, which was distributed based on the town’s population of 800,000 people. Town officials awarded Island Harvest from remaining funds that must be spent by the end of the year.

Island Harvest President Randi Shubin Dresner said the demand for food is not at the extreme of the height of the pandemic, when the food bank delivered hundreds of thousands of meals, but there are still families and isolated seniors struggling to put food on the table and who can’t leave their homes.

She said Island Harvest gave out five million pounds more food in 2020 than in 2019.

"This funding will help us provide much needed food to so many residents," Shubin Dresner said. "We’ve heard from veterans not comfortable going to the supermarket and shopping in large crowds and senior citizens who really can’t get out of their homes. We’ve heard them asking if we could continue this program."

Island Harvest is also including kosher meals to Jewish families in the Five Towns and around Long Island.

Hempstead Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby said her district — including Hempstead, Uniondale and Roosevelt — was among the hardest hit during the pandemic and counted on these food deliveries.

"We need to feed people. It’s the right thing to do," Goosby said.

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