Federal funds to help feed the hungry in Hempstead
The Town of Hempstead on Wednesday gave $305,000 in federal funds to the Interfaith Nutrition Network’s Mary Brennan Soup Kitchen for meals through the holidays to needy families.
The town board unanimously approved the funding, which is on top of $1 million it disbursed to INN last year from the federal government for help providing meals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both disbursements come from $133 million Hempstead received in 2020 for pandemic-related expenses as part of the federal CARES Act.
"The INN helps the people who need it the most," Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin said. "Year-round they help people succeed and move on with their lives. The Town of Hempstead is helping subsidize the costs of all they do."
The INN’s director, Jean Kelly, said the cash infusion will help the food kitchen deliver hot meals through New Year’s Eve and meet increased demand.
She said demand of families and others — with many standing in line around the block from the food kitchen daily — is still close to levels seen at the height of the pandemic.
"Last year was one of the most challenging years and receiving the $1 million grant literally gave us the sustenance we needed to get through that time," Kelly said. "This additional grant is going to help us get our way out of the final push to return to whatever the new normal will be. You’re letting people know they shouldn’t be discouraged and the town is working with groups like the INN to make sure everyday is Thanksgiving."
The INN provides everything from clothing, shelter and guidance to social services and job placement.
The soup kitchen had to transform its operations during the pandemic to allow food pickups at walk-up windows for hot meals, turkeys and other canned foods at locations where indoor seating was unavailable because of the pandemic.
Between March of 2020 and 2021, the kitchen served 239,599 meals to more than 56,000 people. The town also donated personal protective equipment and sanitation supplies to staff and volunteers.