Local businesses and organizations stepped in this week to make sure a Huntington-area nonprofit could continue feeding children in need on the weekends this summer.
The Tri Community and Youth Agency sends many of the children it serves in Huntington, South Huntington and Cold Spring Harbor home with food every weekend, but the nonprofit’s staff realized last month they were running low on food to give out, said Debbie Rimler, regional director of the Tri CYA.
After Huntington Town Councilwoman Tracey Edwards reached out to members of the community for urgent donations, more than 20 organizations — including Stop & Shop, Suffolk County Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts of America, the Townwide Fund of Huntington, PSEG Long Island and National Grid — heeded the call.
It is difficult “when you have a five-year-old worrying, and saying, ‘Can I take just this box of spaghetti home Miss Debbie?’ and it’s the last box of pasta on our shelf,” Rimler said. “Now . . . we’re not going to have that worry for the rest of the summer.”
Summer can be a particularly challenging time for low-income families who depend on free and reduced-cost breakfast and lunch provided at school. Roughly 90,000 children on Long Island receive free and reduced-cost lunch at school, said Allison Puglia, vice president of programs and agency relations for Island Harvest Food Bank.
In the summer, the Tri CYA, a drop-in youth center, serves between 60 and 80 kids and young adults per day, Monday through Saturday from noon to 5 p.m., Rimler said.
The Tri CYA has received more than $3,000 and “carloads” of food, Rimler said. On Friday, Stop & Shop, Edwards, Long Island Cares and other participating organizations presented the nonprofit with carts of apples, oranges, canned soup, pasta, juice, cereal and other items at the Dix Hills Stop & Shop.
Island Harvest, meanwhile, opened more than 80 food sites islandwide to provide children in need with breakfast, lunch and snacks this summer as part of the USDA’s Summer Food Service Program. The organization expects to serve 6,000 children more than 200,000 meals at churches, libraries, parks, camps and recreation centers, Puglia said.
Long Island Cares also dispatches breakfast food trucks to high-need areas while school is out, said Robin Amato, the regional food bank’s chief development officer.
On Long Island, hunger is “in every neighborhood,” Puglia said. “There are many communities where it’s really a silent issue.”