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NY-grown produce boxes distributed to those in need Wednesday in Hampton Bays

Long Island Cares' packages and boxes for the

Long Island Cares' packages and boxes for the needy Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Got produce?

With food insecurity dramatically on the rise for many, Long Island Cares and Feeding New York State Fresh to Go Box Program will host an East End Farmer's Market distribution Wednesday in Hampton Bays.

The event will be hosted by Long Island Cares, Inc.-The Harry Chapin Food Bank at the Hunger Assistance and Humanitarian Center of the Hamptons, its East End satellite office at 286 West Montauk Hwy., between 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

Funded in partnership with Feeding America and Nourish NY, an initiative launched by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in response to the pandemic-induced food crisis, Feeding New York State and Long Island Cares plan to distribute so-called "go boxes" of fresh produce to 10 East End agencies for service to those in need.

Individual boxes will contain about 20 pounds of produce each, including onions, potatoes and items like apples, cabbage and squash. A dairy item may be included in each box, if available. Most of the items are New York-grown.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Long Island Cares said the number of food insecure Long Islanders has "ballooned" — from about 259,000 in March 2020 to more than 480,000 this April.

Agencies scheduled to participate include: Long Island Child & Family Development Services of Southampton, CAST-Community Action Southold Town, Church of the Harvest, St. Rosalie's, Children's Museum of the East End, The Main Street Market, Main Street Market South, Lighthouse Mission, Helping Hands East End and the Phoenix House-East Academy.

Long Island Cares spokeswoman Claire Fratello said the one-day event is not only important for East End residents who'll be served Wednesday. She said The Harry Chapin Food Bank is hopeful it will make North Fork and South Fork residents aware of the new office, which opened in March 2020, at the very start of the pandemic, following a $500,000 grant from Bank of America.

The Hunger Assistance and Humanitarian Center of the Hamptons is open to the public weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. for walk-in service and those in need can also contact the center directly at 631-613-3344 to arrange mobile deliveries for those who are homebound or shut in, Fratello said.

"It's a beautiful facility, open five days a week, and we have so much to offer out there," Fratello said. "We want to make it as easy for people as possible to be able to get the food they need … And, it's good product. It can really help."

Founded in 1980 by singer, songwriter and activist Harry Chapin, Long Island Cares now works with about 350 member agencies throughout Nassau and Suffolk, including about three dozen on the East End, Fratello said.

On the East End it provides outreach services to migrant and agricultural communities, among others, as well as residents of the Shinnecock Nation.

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