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Long IslandSuffolk

2 months after fire, soup kitchen remains closed

Two months after arson destroyed the Hope for the Future Ministries soup kitchen in East Farmingdale, the building remains shuttered and the ministry has stopped its weekly food giveaways.

The donations and offers of help aren't coming in as fast as they had right after the fire. And the snowstorms of this winter have delayed the rebuilding, so the office still operates out of a mobile trailer parked in front.

The Rev. Diane Dunne, who heads Hope for the Future, said the organization got through Christmas, giving out toys and food to people for the holiday. Now, she said, she's focusing on finding a new space for her soup kitchen.

Meanwhile, a dispute with a public adjuster - Foxwood Public Adjustment Corp. of Farmingdale - which the ministry hired to help it file its insurance claim, has caused some setbacks in the rebuilding.

Complicating matters is the fact that Foxwood Public Adjustment Corp. is not licensed by the New York State Insurance Department, although Foxwood president John M. LaPata Sr. is.

A spokesman for the state insurance department, Ron Klug, said the company would need to be licensed in order to operate properly.

John Zollo, a Nesconset attorney who represents LaPata, said the licensing issue likely was a technical oversight. "It's still a binding contract," Zollo said.

Dunne said the wrangling has caused the ministry's rebuilding efforts to grind to a halt. The nonprofit has since hired a different public adjuster who hopes to submit the claim soon.

Suffolk police continue their investigation into the fire, which they said was criminally set. No arrests have been made.

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