Large tractor trailers - almost empty of food by 11 a.m. after arriving in the early morning Tuesday - were a good indicator of Long Island's hungry.
With the help of volunteers, Island Harvest, the island's largest organization feeding the hungry, held one of four Summertime Food Blitz food distribution events, in a parking lot behind the Courthouse Corporate Center on Carleton Avenue in Central Islip. Food manufacturers and distributors donated food given out to local food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, and other charitable groups that feed the hungry.
"They can get into needy parts of this community where government can't go," said Suffolk Legis. Ricardo Montano (D-Brentwood) of these charities, who also noted that the Brentwood and Central Islip areas have some of the highest foreclosure rates on Long Island. Montano was one of the sponsors of the event and secured use of the parking lot for it. More than 100 of the agencies showed up to get food for their pantry shelves.
The need for food has increased significantly during the recent turbulent economic times, said Randi Shubin Dresner, president and chief executive of Island Harvest. Last year, Island Harvest distributed 6.5 million pounds of food. This year it will be at least 8 million pounds, she said.
There's both the unemployed and underemployed, said Dresner, creating a new group of people who rely on donations to feed themselves and their families.
"More than 285,000 people are accessing food" from pantries and other charitable services. "One in every 10 people. One hundred and ten thousand are children," Dresner said.
Summer is also especially difficult for families in need, Montano said, since parents rely on the one nutritional free meal given at public schools.
While Dresner was talking to reporters, both sides of Long Island were apparent. A man in an SUV stopped to offer money. Within minutes, another man said he just moved to the area and wanted to know where to get food.
HOW TO HELP
Island Harvest has an army of 4,000 volunteers who have donated 70,000 hours, but are always looking for help. To assist them, call Island Harvest at 516-294-8528. If you would like to give a money donation to help feed the hungry, send a bank check or money order payable to Island Harvest, 199 Second St., Mineola, NY 11501.
- STACEY ALTHERR< />