Thoughts Worth Sharing

Overwhelming Need For Food Assistance: End of SNAP

Our Freeport Emergency Food Center has been almost overwhelmed this fall with requests for assistance. Congress has at least temporarily continued funding for WIC, the Commodities Surplus Food Program and other emergency food programs, but on November 1st benefits will be cut for all SNAP recipients (the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as the food stamp program) because of legislation passed by the United States Congress in 2010. 76% of households receiving SNAP include at least one child, elderly person, or disabled person. SNAP has been helping more than 47 million low-income Americans put food on the table by providing benefits that are timely, targeted, and temporary—and with the benefit cuts more of these people are going to turn up at our food pantries in the coming weeks. If you have been collecting food for the LICC, this would be a great time to donate it!
Spare Change For Hungry Kids: Creative Idea

Like many food pantries, those operated by the LICC always need donations of baby food, infant formula, and diapers. One local church found a great way to keep this need on people’s minds. They collected empty baby food jars, put a label on them that said something like, “Spare Change for Hungry Kids” and asked the congregation with pennies or other loose change to pay for food for children in need.  We would love to do this at the LICC. If you know anyone with young children, could you ask them to save the empty jars for us? And, of course, we’d love to have unused formula, baby food, and diapers that their children no longer need, too. This might make a great project for your Sunday School, daycare program, or Scout troop - maybe even an Eagle project.
The Need For Emergency Food Grows And Grows

At our Freeport Food and Services Boutique (Emergency Food Center), we have fed more than 7,500 more people this year (as of April 2020) than we did in the same period in 2019 — particularly more children. Donations always slow down during the summer months, when many of our regular supporters are away on vacation. If you have been collecting food or shopping bags for us, this would be a great time to donate them.

Where And How To Donate

Donations of food, personal care items, small household goods, and shopping bags can be dropped off in Freeport (230 Hanse Avenue, 516-868-4989)
Our Food and Services Boutique (Pantry) is open Monday-Friday, 9:30 to 12:00 and 1:00 to 3:30. Please call if you plan to make a delivery to the pantry.
And, of course, monetary donations to support our emergency food centers would be greatly appreciated. These should be sent to the LICC at
230 Hanse Avenue,
Freeport, NY 11520

Donate Now Online

Updated 05/2020

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost to feed a family of four ranges from $146 to $289 per week. But these are just numbers. Compare them to what you spend per week and perhaps you'll have a different perspective. I did.

There are no luxuries at these levels. The food can be good and wholesome, but the treats and indulgences that we all enjoy don't make the cut. What boggles the mind is the stress and anxiety associated with having to live with a food budget as low as $146 per week.

You may contribute to a week (or partial week or several weeks) of food to feed a family of four here.

The Lesson From The Oklahoma Tornado

The magnitude of the tragedy in Moore, Oklahoma from an unimaginably devastating EF5 tornado, is being matched by the outpouring of assistance from organizations and individuals who provide and donate services, money, and supplies. This assistance is critical to the recovery and healing of body and spirit for individuals and communities alike. (See the before/after satellite image, below.)


Having this assistance on the scene and in sufficient quantity is vitally important. This is why it is necessary to be well stocked and prepared. How can you and I participate in this work?

The Fastest Why To Help

The media emphasize that the best support someone can provide is to donate to the agencies that are on the ground, and for good reason. They have the experience, equipment, and processes to organize and distribute vitally needed items like food, water, toiletries, and medications. As valuable as a case of food, for example, might seem as a donation, in reality it may never get into the disaster relief system in time. And this is why monetary donations are requested, because money is the fastest and most effective way that relief services can be provided after an emergency occurs.

The Lesson For Local Emergency Relief Agencies

Local emergency relief agencies don’t have the benefit of mass media drawing attention to their needs. For these agencies it is even more important to be well stocked. And because supplies tend to be small and quickly consumed, having a ready and easy way to replenish supplies can mean the difference between a partial and full relief effort.

The lesson from Oklahoma, and all the other disasters we’ve heard about, is to support the relief agency of your choice before supplies are needed, and to respond immediately with additional monetary support when a local disaster occurs.

Find And Support The Agency of Your Choice

You probably know of several now or can easily learn of them through your civic organizations, house of worship, or local government. Commit to taking action now. An excellent resource for help services on Long Island is the Long Island Council of Churches.

Consider the Long Island Council of Churches

The Long Island Council of Churches serves nearly 800 faith communities in Nassau and Suffolk County, Long Island, with emergency food assistance and so much more.

Recently, the LICC developed an online donation website,, that can make giving quick and easy.

Don't Wait For Another Disaster

So, regardless of what agency you donate to, donate now so that it will be prepared for the emergencies of the future.

(Image courtesy of Gizmodo.)

It's about hunger: those who have it and those who can do something about it.

It's beyond the statistics of hunger, which are harrowing, to gut level discomfort, disorientation, shame, fear, and real pain.

It's about the imagination, hard work, and inspiration of organizations like Island Harvest and Long Island Cares that are taking action to fight hunger; the millions of pounds of food distributed, the millions of meals provided, and the hundreds of organizations - like Long Island Council of Churches - that benefit.

Island Harvest: Reclaiming Food That Would Be Thrown Away

The Island Harvest Story

Island Harvest was created in 1992 by one woman with a cooler, a station wagon, and a strong desire to help people in need.  Linda Breitstone, founder, was infuriated that food from a local convenience store was being thrown away at the end of the day – with a safe house for women and children down the street.  In response, she established Island Harvest and the mission, “to end hunger and reduce food waste on Long Island.”

What it does

Island Harvest delivers millions of pounds of good, surplus food – much of which might otherwise go to waste – to a network of over 500 Long Island-based food pantries, soup kitchens, and other non-profit organization that offer feeding services for those in need.

Its success

Since inception, Island Harvest has delivered 71 million pounds of food, supplementing close to 66 million meals.

Long Island Cares: Facilitating food donations to provide emergency food relief

The Long Island Cares Story

In response to the need for a year-round emergency food resource, Long Island Cares (founded in 1980) opened The Harry Chapin Food Bank.

What it does

The Food Bank receives, warehouses, and distributes millions of pounds of donated and purchased food from various sources to member agencies serving the needy population of Nassau and Suffolk counties. The Food Bank delivers food to over 500 agencies: food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, group homes, day treatment facilities, senior nutrition sites and day care centers.

Its success 

In 2010, The Harry Chapin Food Bank distributed over 6 million pounds of food and household goods.

Beyond Food - Innovative Programs

The fight against hunger only begins with food. Here are samples of innovative programs from each organization.

New Paths to Achievement: The New Paths to Achievement Program addresses the need for education and job skills training to aid low-income, single head-of-household females in gaining independence. The Program prepares economically disadvantaged women to become financially independent by boosting their self-esteem and giving them specific employment-seeking skills to help them reenter the workforce. Read more...

Operation HOPE: To help the many veterans that are struggling and in need of food assistance, Island Harvest launched Operation:  HOPE – a new program specifically designed to assist veterans and the families of active duty personnel deployed overseas. Staffed with volunteers who are also veterans, and working with local veterans organizations, Operation: HOPE will deliver food and supplies to the doors of Long Island veterans and their families 2 days a week.  In addition, Operation: HOPE volunteers will provide information and referrals to link veterans and military families with benefits and services that can help them. Read more…

School Tools: Beyond giving a child the proper nourishment for learning (read about the Kids Cafe), School Tools donates items such as backpacks, notebooks, planners, paper, binders, crayons, pens and pencils to help make a child's learning experience a positive one. Read more…

Finding Solutions Education Series: Island Harvest hosts monthly workshops that cover a variety of topics that relate to the critical issue of hunger, and include:

• Accessing Food Stamps.
• Nutrition - making healthy choices with limited funds.
• Identifying ways to lower non-food monthly expenses.
• Important facts about safe food handling and health.
• Information on affordable housing issues.
• Health insurance programs.

How to be part of the fight

Island Harvest and Long Island Cares are resources to help you help in the fight against hunger and to inspire you to innovative ways of your own.

Contact Information:

Island Harvest: / (516) 294-8528

Long Island Cares: / (631) 582-3663

About the Long Island Council of Churches

The Long Island Council of Churches (LICC) is the coordinating body for the ecumenical work of churches throughout Nassau and Suffolk Counties. LICC shares in the mission of Island Harvest and Long Island Cares and is greatly supported by both organizations. Contributing to both organizations is encouraged, and you may also make a contribution to LICC via its emergency food donation & more website.

Image from Island Harvest website.



Jesus taught that a poor widow who gave a small copper coin was more worthy of praise than a rich man who put gold into the Temple treasury (the Gospel according to Mark 12:41-44 & the Gospel according to Luke 21:1-4), because he gave only "out of his abidance" but she "gave all she had." The poor often give more. 

We saw this few Octobers ago at  “Share the Harvest,” the Long Island Council of Churches’ annual fundraising event at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. Auctioneer Rudy Saviano urged attendees to “adopt a family,” donating money to feed a family of four. One of our waiters--who was perhaps not poor but certainly not the wealthiest person in the room, either--approached Grace Simonette, the event co-chair.  A young Muslim from India, he was so touched by our request for support for hungry families that he made a $40 donation, much of the money he earned that evening serving us.

Grace thanked him and asked where, in India, he was from. He replied, “I come from a village so small that no one over here would ever have heard of it.” Grace persisted, saying she has traveled extensively in India. He answered,”Dehra Dun. It’s in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountain Range.”

Grace replied that she knows the village well. “It’s the last stop on the train from Dehli on the way to a school called Woodstock in Missoorie, quite near Dehra Dun."

Internationally it’s a well-known school, kindergarten through 12th grade, attended by children from foreign countries, children of diplomats, children of foreign workers, and of local families. The village is surrounded by unimaginable beauty.” The man was astonished, and asked Grace to tell him more.

“My maternal grandmother was a missionary in India. My mother was born in India, grew up there, and attended and later taught at the Woodstock School in Missoorie, very near Dehra Dun,” Grace explained. “My daughter lived in the village and attended the school there by herself – no relatives, she didn’t know anyone, and she loved it.”

And so two caring people of different faiths, born and raised half-way across the world from each other, came together at Share the Harvest: Helping Neighbors in Need.” Their unexpected meeting helped to feed the hungry and heal our broken world.

By Grace Simonette 


It's there, but you don't remember. The can or jar that you bought and forgot about, hidden in the back of your shelf. "Oh," you say, "it's expired. I'll have to throw it out."

Don't throw it out - donate it.

Someone asked recently if they can donate food to our emergency pantries that has passed its “expiration date.” Yes. We will take nearly anything, with a few exceptions: you really do need to throw out rusted cans, cans dented along the seams, or baby food or infant formula that has passed the date on the can or jar.

Food can be salvaged.

On other nonperishable items, though, it is difficult to decode the labels and what appears to be a do-not-use date may simply be a “pull-date” for grocery deliveries: the item may still be safe to use, but the retailer wants it off their shelves by that date. We send our pantry staff to Island Harvest and Long Island Cares regularly for “food rescue” training to learn the intricacies of pull-dates, best-if-used-by-dates, and when-to-chuck-it dates, and they can determine if it safe to distribute donations. The state issues us a “food salvage” license.

The Rev. Dwight Wolter, pastor of Patchogue Congregational Church, had a great suggestion for his church: donate the stuff at the back of your shelf, which you probably aren't using, before it is too ancient to help someone who needs it. We’ll even take fruitcake and excess Valentine’s Day candy—and while you are pulling these from your kitchen, you might see what else you could donate.

Baby food is different.

We cannot distribute baby food or formula after they reach the expiration date, which is fairly easy to read on their labels. So please encourage parents to donate the baby food or formula that their children no longer need immediately, so that someone in need can use it. What should you do with past-date formula? Our Riverhead manager Carolyn Gumbs has found that pet shelters are often glad to receive it and can safely feed it to puppies. 

How to donate.

The LICC gladly accepts all sorts of non-perishable food. We can often take perishable donations, too, but it is best to call first to see if we have room in or refrigerators and freezers. Donations can be dropped off at our Freeport Emergency Food Center (230 Hanse Avenue, 516-868-4989). And if you have a large quantity of food to donate, we would be glad to pick it up.
New: Buy food online - it's quick and easy

You can also buy food for our food pantries through this Web site, which allows us to get as much as possible from your donation and to get the items that our neighbors need the most.
Donate Now button

Not long ago, few seniors came to the LICC’s emergency food pantries, except those who came as volunteers and those who brought donations to help their neighbors in need. Lately, though, we have been feeding a steadily increasing number of senior citizens, nearly 200 a month. It is sad, of course, that our elders are having a hard time making ends meet. The constant increase in cost of living—which has outstripped any COLA increases in government benefits—combined with lower returns on their savings is squeezing them harder each year.
Special Dietary Needs
These growing numbers of elderly clients challenges our ability to combat hunger. Not only do we need more donations to assist an ever-increasing number of Long Islanders, seniors also often need food that emergency food centers seldom have in stock, such as low sodium dietetic, sugar free, and low fat foods, vitamins, and dietary supplements (Ensure, Boost, etc.)
Hunger Takes A Psychological Toll
Moreover, seniors are turning to us for help who have never before had to seek assistance from anyone. Five years ago, I could tell without a thought whether a car that pulled up in front of our Riverhead office was someone seeking food or somebody schlepping donations from their congregation. I can’t tell anymore, both because those who once brought baskets of food may now need help themselves and also because the elderly often dress up to seek assistance, doing whatever they can to preserve what remains of their dignity.
Our Seniors Need To Be Fed With Compassion
It takes compassion and patience to extend help to those who are not accustomed to needing assistance. We have created reception areas that are welcoming, places where our guests can sit comfortably while they fill out our minimal paperwork, get a cup of coffee or a glass of water, and choose the food or clothes or household items that they need, rather than simply accepting a one-size-fits-all box of food. We also have recruited those who need help to assist others, delivering groceries to a shut-in neighbor while discreetly accepting a bag for themselves. 

 See The Facts Behind Seniors in Hunger

Low-fat, low-sodium: Donate What You Dislike
That low-fat food you tried and disliked may be a godsend to someone else. The no-salt tomato sauce you don’t care for may be just what they need. If you have food they need in your home that you probably will not eat—particularly low-sodium, dietetic, sugar free, and low fat foods, vitamins, Ensure, Boost, and such—please donate it. We could use carpeting or area rugs in Hempstead and some comfortable chairs or small couches in Freeport and Riverhead to welcome our guests a bit more graciously. If you have none of these to give, please consider donating money so that we can assist your neighbors in need.

How To Donate
The LICC gladly accepts all sorts of non-perishable food, and we can often take perishable donations, too, but it is best to call first to see if we have room in or refrigerators and freezers. Donations can be dropped off at our Freeport Emergency Food Center (230 Hanse Avenue, 516-868-4989). Please call if you plan to make a delivery to the pantry. And if you have a large quantity of food to donate, we would be glad to pick it up.
You can also buy food for our food pantries through the links on this Web site, which allows us to get as much as possible from your donation and to get the items that our neighbors need the most.

Thanks for your support!

Updated 010/2018

Donating food can be a hassle. There's the trip to the store, the checkout, and the drop off. Many times I've forgotten to drop off the food, only to be reminded when I open the hatchback door. There are other times when my church is not open. And, of course, there's the issue with the receipt for tax purposes.

I'd donate more, more often, if it were easier.

food donation page at liccdonate.orgThe Easy Way To Donate Food

The Long Island Council of Churches has developed an easy way to donate food (and other items). It's part of a new website that you can check out at

Donating food is now as easy as buying a book from Amazon and sending it to a relative or friend. You select the item(s) you want to donate, add them to the online shopping cart, and pay with a credit card. You get your receipt via email, instantly. And it only takes a minute or two.

Having a birthday party for a young child and don't want gifts? Suggest that food be donated instead and include the website in the invitation.

More food to more hungry people. That's what it's all about.