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Food pantry opens in a North Babylon church in place of a town pantry that relocated last summer

North Babylon's only food pantry is scheduled to open Nov. 4, organizers said, filling a void because of the relocation of the Town of Babylon's food pantry from that hamlet over the summer.

Members of about a dozen local civic groups worked with St. Paul's Reformed Church Pastor Conrad Strauch to build and stock the North Babylon Food Pantry, located at the church, 158 Phelps Lane. Shelves are now partly full; they hope to fill them at an open house and food drive Nov. 2.

"We will serve anybody that's hungry," said Richard Irizarry, a facilities manager and president of the North Babylon Lions Club. "We have seniors on fixed incomes, families and individuals that came upon hard times."

Median household income in the hamlet of North Babylon was about $88,000 in 2012, according to the Census Bureau, higher than for the town as a whole. But more than a third of all students in North Babylon schools were counted as "economically disadvantaged" for the 2012-13 school year, meaning they or their families participated in programs such as food stamps or reduced lunches that are considered indicators of poverty by the New York State Education Department.

The town-operated food pantry, at Town Hall Annex on Phelps Lane in the hamlet, moved to 1 Commerce Blvd. in Amityville over the summer because of renovations to the building and to be closer to North Amityville, where many of its clients live, town spokesman Kevin Bonner said.

Some North Babylon civic leaders worried the trip to Amityville would be difficult for some. "If you don't have the money to even feed your family, where are you getting the car or even the gas to get to" the town pantry, said Linda Gambardella, another pantry organizer.

The dedication ceremony is set for 10:30 a.m. Organizers are asking for dried and nonperishable foods and toiletries. Items can be dropped off other days during church hours.

Pantry hours will be Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For more information, email nbfoodpantry@optonline.net.

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