As the coronavirus infection rate continues to rise, food insecurity rises, too.
To address this concern, Hempstead Town Supervisor Don Clavin and the Hempstead Town Board approved a $400,000 grant for Island Harvest Food Bank’s No One Should Go Hungry in Hempstead food distribution program.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Island Harvest Food Bank has been providing critical food support for Long Islanders facing food insecurity through it’s Hempstead Harvest to Home initiative and other emergency feeding programs.
Hempstead’s Harvest to Home program has delivered more than 120,000 meals to Town of Hempstead homebound residents, reaching over 1,000 seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and people who are immunocompromised.
The No One Should Go Hungry in Hempstead program will continue to provide much-needed food support, and is comprised of three food distributions—to seniors, communities and health centers—and it will run through the end December.
During a special Town Board meeting, Clavin, Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Councilman Bruce Blakeman, Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, Councilman Dennis Dunne Sr., Councilman Tom Muscarella and Councilman Chris Carini unanimously approved this initiative, which is possible due to funding from the Town of Hempstead’s $133 million federal CARES Act fund.
“This pandemic has brought many challenges to our table, and one of the most serious is the abundant concern for food,” said Clavin. “No one should struggle to obtain a meal. We aligned with Island Harvest with one goal in common: Ensure no one in the Town of Hempstead goes hungry during this holiday season.”
The first part of the program focuses on the age group most vulnerable to the virus: Seniors over the age of 65 who are 16 percent of the residents in the Town of Hempstead. They are also the most likely to experience food insecurity; Island Harvest Food Bank will package and distribute 4,500 healthy shelf-stable food boxes to seniors at different drop-off points and 15 low-income senior housing sites.
The boxes include food support resources, nutrition information and the contact information of Island Harvest Food Bank’s Community Empowerment team. This team can provide assistance with a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance program and will guide residents through the application process along with referrals to other services.
The second part of the program reaches families, students and other members in the community through 4,000 boxes of healthy food containing items such as meat, fresh produce, dairy products and more.
There will be four distributions over the course of two weeks. The COVID-19 pandemic has limited the access of healthy food for many families, which can negatively impact children for the rest of their lives.
In Nassau County alone, 59,000 thousand students qualify to receive free- or- reduced-price school meals, and more than half of them live in the Town of Hempstead. These boxes are designed to supplement multiple meals.
“Supervisor Don Clavin and the town board have been invaluable partners in helping us provide much-needed food assistance to thousands of Town of Hempstead residents who have suddenly found themselves in the unenviable position of not having enough to eat,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, president & CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank. “Thanks to their support and advocacy, we’re helping make sure that no one goes without such a basic need as food, and on behalf of the people we serve, we thank them for their efforts.”
The third part of the program is an alliance with four Long Island federally qualified health centers in Elmont, Roosevelt, Hempstead and Freeport. These centers have been on the frontlines fighting COVID-19, providing testing and treatment to Town of Hempstead residents. A majority of patients are low-income and like the aforementioned groups, they have also faced food insecurity or are at risk of doing so. The last distribution will take 400 shelf-stable food boxes per week until December 31st to the four testing sites for patients in need of food support.
So many people have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and this collaboration with Island Harvest Food Bank will go a long way toward helping those residents in need,” said Senior Councilwoman Goosby. Added Councilman Blakeman, “This was a difficult year for many neighbors, and we thank our friends at Island Harvest Food Bank for supporting our most vulnerable population.”