The Island Harvest Food Bank distributed more than 1 million pounds of food between March 9 and April 17.
Responding to the increased demand created by the COVID-19 crisis, the Hauppauge-based nonprofit has ramped up its efforts to help feed Long Islanders in need.
Island Harvest has also delivered essential products to more than 1,874 homebound senior citizens and veterans and screened more than 675 Long Islanders for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, according to a written statement.
“This is an incredible moment of peril for us all,” Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO of Island Harvest Food Bank, said in the statement. “The coronavirus has created a new standard of need, and now people who have never sought food assistance and others who have known support from local food pantries alike are on the same lines waiting for food support these days.”
Island Harvest Food Bank activated its Coronavirus Emergency Response Program on March 9, with a roll-out of a revised Emergency Contingency Business Plan that identified special precautions to retain the safety of its staff, volunteers, clients and its food supply. Its entire operation now centers on responding to the needs of people on Long Island impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and its regular food distribution programs have been re-adapted to accommodate this response.
Normally relying on donated food to assist the people it serves, Island Harvest has seen those sources dry up. Consequently, the food bank has changed its food procurement model to buying food to meet the ever-increasing demand.
“Supermarkets, food wholesalers, restaurants, and others simply don’t have the surplus product to donate, and many community-based food drives we rely on have disappeared, too,” Shubin Dresner said.
Many large-scale food drives, including the National Association of Letter Carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger food drive, which collected more than 520,000 pounds has been postponed due to the virus.
“Our main priority remains that no one on Long Island goes without food during this unprecedented public health emergency,” Shubin Dresner said. “To that end, Island Harvest Food Bank continues to identify geographic areas and specific populations where access to a steady supply of food may be lacking because no one on Long Island should go hungry.”