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.