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Long IslandTowns

LI soup kitchen celebrates 10 years

The Mary Brennan INN, which bills itself as the largest soup kitchen on Long Island, will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Hempstead location March 4.

The event at 100 Madison Ave. in Hempstead will feature the opening of the kitchen’s “guest choice pantry.” The option allows clients to make their own food selections, said Cynthia Sucich, communications director.

“The longevity of the soup kitchen is due to the dignity and respect we show to the guests who walk inside of the soup kitchen, and those who support our efforts,” she said.

A $100,000 grant from the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset will be recognized by Jean Kelly, executive director of The INN, at the event. The Hempstead INN is one of 19 across Long Island that feeds more than 7,500 people each week, according to the organization’s website.

The Mary Brennan facility was the first INN, which stands for Interfaith Nutrition Network. It was founded in 1983 and moved to several locations in the Hempstead area before settling in its current spot. The facility can seat 200 visitors at a time and is unique among the INNs for providing clothing, groceries, showers, and job and housing referrals, Sucich said.

In the past six years, Sucich said, she had seen a 45 percent to 50 percent increase in clients visiting the center, jumping from about 200 to 500 visitors per day.