Nassau County Executive Laura Curran holds a news conference on Thursday, July 2, 2020.

Advocates and officials launched Thursday what was billed as the largest-ever food distribution event in Nassau County history.

The county partnered with the nonprofit Island Harvest to distribute 100,000 pounds of food to an estimated 20,000 families outside the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. That’s in addition to the county partnering with Long Island Cares on other efforts to feed the hungry.

“As we work to revive our economy, Nassau County will remain committed to addressing the food insecurity crisis triggered by COVID-19,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

Demonstrating the increase in need is a 41 percent increase in requests for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, commonly known as food stamps, last month compared to June of 2019. That’s down from 300 percent in April 2020 over April of 2019. To help, Nassau has set aside $1 million in federal grants for food banks to collect, distribute, and purchase food.

“We’re here because of this absolutely crazy pandemic that has forced so many people to question whether they could put food on the table for their families,” said Randi Shubin Dresner, CEO of Island Harvest.

Shubin Dresner explained that it was a combination of different stresses from the pandemic that have caused so many new people to rely on food banks for survival. The inability of children to rely on school for some of their daily meals, the newfound unreliability of finding food at grocery stores, and the sudden loss of jobs leading to entire families being stuck at home together created the perfect storm for food insecurity. 

Although the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on food insecure populations has been severe, and speakers made sure to illustrate that it will take a long time for Long Island to be able to recover, volunteers and staff members were still optimistic in their efforts to aid those in need. 

“While the road to recovery…may at times be uncertain, I think what’s not uncertain is that we will, in fact, recover,” said Frank Pusinelli, CEO of RXR Realty.  “Long Island is resilient, we come together as a team…and we help each other get through a crisis.” 

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