The Long Island Cares — Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank will use new state grant money to buy nearly $1.7 million in seafood, fresh produce and other food products from the East End and elsewhere, over the next 15 months, officials said.
The latest infusion of grant money from the Nourish New York program totals just over $1.9 million, including administrative costs. It means more for the needy and suppliers say the food bank's purchase will mean they can add to their labor force and output in the farming and fishing communities.
"The Nourish [New York] program has had a very positive impact in our region," Paule Pachter, Long Island Cares’ chief executive, said in a statement. "Not only have we been able to expand our distribution of fresh produce, dairy products and proteins for the 218,000 of our neighbors in need of emergency food assistance, we’ve been able to invest nearly $1.5 million to support Long Island growers and our local fishing industry hit hard economically by the COVID-19 pandemic."
Brian Coyne, sales and customer support associate for Hapco Farms in East Quogue, said in an interview that Long Island Cares' purchase of food since the grant program began in 2020 has enabled Hapco to prolong its harvesting season.
"Usually we’re done harvesting earlier in the year," Coyne said. "Our season usually ends in October. But Long Island Cares kept us going through November and December … because of what we’re doing with Long Island Cares, we were able to plant extra, which allowed us to harvest throughout November and December to make these produce boxes" for the food bank. He added it allowed the farm to increase its labor force and hours of operation at its warehouse.
Capt. Peter Haskell, president of Haskell's Seaford in Quogue, said his company's association with Long Island Cares, which began in May 2020, has "had a very positive impact on the fisheries as a whole." He added in an email: "Haskell's Seafood has worked with over 100 local Long Island fishermen and crew from Freeport to Montauk that have been directly involved in harvesting" some 204,000 pounds of whole fish. He added that his company had "processed those landings into 85,400 pounds of fillet delivered to Long Island Cares."
Haskell said the work with Long Island Cares "has strengthened our local fishing industry throughout the pandemic."
Peter Crescenti, Long Island Cares' spokesman, said the Nourish New York grant totaled $1.9 million, with nearly $1.7 million toward the purchase of food, with the remaining $295,000-plus to be used for administrative costs between this January and March 2023.
The food bank anticipates spending over $1 million on Long Island from local suppliers, with the remainder going to suppliers elsewhere in the state for items that can't be purchased locally.
The region's other major food bank, Island Harvest, also got $1.9 million from Nourish New York to buy food from local producers.
Crescenti added that from May 2020, when the Nourish New York program began, through December 2021, Long Island Cares spent just over $1.3 million on Long Island — with nearly $1 million of that going to Haskell's Seaford.
Crescenti said Long Island Cares also plans to purchase from suppliers in Amagansett, Aquebogue, Brookhaven Town, Southampton, Mattituck, as well as suppliers in Nassau County, specifically in Manhasset, Farmingdale and Levittown.
STATE GRANT FOR FOOD BANK
Long Island Cares has a $1.9 million Nourish New York state grant to buy food from local and state food suppliers from January 2022 through March 2023.
Among East End companies providing food to Long Island Cares are Haskell's Seafood in Quogue and Hapco Farms of East Quogue. They said their partnership with the food bank has meant an increase in labor force and production.
Other suppliers the food bank plans to buy from are located across Suffolk and Nassau.