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Taylor Herzlich

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Nassau Hosts Its Largest-Ever Food Distribution Event

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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Long Island Food Banks Step Up To Meet Increased Demand

Local food banks say more than 300,000 Long Islanders are food insecure and rely on food pantries and soup kitchens. (Getty Images)

Long Island Cares, one of the region’s largest food banks, has seen a 72 percent increase in the number of new people requiring the support of local food pantries amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In the past three months, the nonprofit has increased their food purchasing by 39 percent — 3.6 million pounds of additional food, or 4,537,541 meals — to keep up with the 48,973 new customers.

“For the past two months, everything we’ve been doing at the regional food bank is to address the long-term needs of Long Islanders for food assistance,” Paule Pachter, CEO of Long Island Cares, told reporters at a recent news conference held outside the Harry Chapin Regional Food Bank in Hauppauge. 

Long Island Cares established a COVID-19 response plan in March that focused on opening six emergency food distribution centers across the island. The organization manages 25 emergency food assistance centers across Nassau and Suffolk counties.

The nonprofit is determined to keep up with the steadily increasing need, and has created a timetable outlining the long-term effects of the pandemic that spans through Dec. 31. Their staff of 53 at the food bank has grown to 82 to help manage the new pop-up food distribution centers. The effects of the pandemic are vast, and can be seen all across Long Island.

“Many people look at the North Fork, and think of the beautiful beaches, the vineyards, the farms, the farm-to-table restaurants, the breweries, but they don’t think about the people who make those businesses work,” said Cathy Demeroto, executive director of Community Action Southold Town. “Our clients are the invisible thread that keep the North Fork together.”

In February, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Demeroto was overseeing 594 household food distributions and 12,150 meal donations in the North Fork. Last month, the numbers increased to 1,743 household food distributions and 23,318 meals. Pre-COVID-19, food expenses were about $1,200 a week. In the past week, Demeroto spent more than $10,000. 

Although the numbers speak for themselves, Demeroto made sure to warn Long Islanders about the lasting impacts of the pandemic.

“This is not on the down slide right now,” she said. “We are still seeing incredible need.”

Related Story: 13 Ways To Donate To Help Fight The Coronavirus Pandemic

For more coronavirus coverage, visit longislandpress.com/coronavirus

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Lynbrook Motel Demolished, Housing Project Advances

Anthony Bartone, managing partner of Terwilliger & Bartone Properties.

A wrecking crew began demolishing on Tuesday the Capri Motor Inn in Lynbrook to make way for Cornerstone at Yorkshire, a new luxury apartment building that will be built in its place.

After a lengthy debate about the size of the project, the Village of Lynbrook approved a proposal by Terwilliger & Bartone Properties, a Farmingdale-based real estate development company, to build housing in place of the motel on Freer Street, which drew years of complaints from the community.

“It’s a great day for Lynbrook,” said Steve Wengel, executive director of the Lynbrook Chamber of Commerce. “It’s a great marriage because it gets rid of a blight that’s been in our community for a lot of years and many mayors have tried to eliminate it, and [allows] for Terwilliger & Bartone to step in and create something that’s great and knock down something that’s not so great.” 

Lynbrook Mayor Alan Beach cheered the demolition of the motel and coming construction of new housing, which he said will stimulate the economy, promote commerce, and boost the community tax base.

“That’s what Lynbrook’s about: Giving the best,” Beach said. 

The Cornerstone at Yorkshire is marketed as a luxurious living community, with 80 one- and two-bedroom housing units sporting modern features, such as stainless appliances and quartz countertops. The Cornerstone will also have an on-site property management team and super, designed to maintain the upkeep of the fitness center, club room, and courtyard. The residential community is expected to begin leasing during summer 2021 and open in fall 2021.

Richard Kessel, chairman of the Nassau County Industrial Development Agency, said groundbreaking ceremony for the project is a bit of needed good news amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Now, especially, with what’s going on in the world,” he said, “people are going to need housing, and this is the perfect place to do it.”

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