It’s the season for giving and New York State has just gifted Island Harvest Food Bank with a very generous present. Island Harvest recently announced that it has secured $1 million from the State of New York through the 2018-19 State and Municipal Facilities Program (SAM) according to Randi Shubin Dresner, president and CEO. The funding, which was secured by the New York State Senate Majority’s Long Island delegation, will go towards Island Harvest Food Bank’s ongoing capital campaign to be used to purchase a permanent building to consolidate operations, improve distribution efficiencies and expand the hunger-relief organization’s distribution services and programs that assist 300,000 food-insecure Long Islanders.
New York State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Senators Kemp Hannon, Carl Marcellino, Elaine Phillips, Kenneth LaValle, and Phil Boyle, were instrumental in securing the funds.
“The growth that Island Harvest Food Bank has experienced since its inception in 1992 has been supported mostly through a piece-by-piece approach regarding our distribution and warehouse functions,” explained Dresner. “Due to that growth, it’s time to consolidate operations that support more efficient collection and distribution of product used to support the people we serve throughout Long Island in a more resourceful, and cost-effective manner.”
“With increased, permanent space, we will be able to help close the existing meal gap and provide stronger programs and nutritional services to the most vulnerable in our community,” said Dresner.
“Our Long Island State Senators have been strong advocates on behalf of Island Harvest Food Bank and the people we serve in helping to secure much-needed funds, and we are deeply appreciative of their efforts and genuine concern,” Dresner concluded.
Island Harvest Food Bank presently leases a distribution facility at 40 Marcus Blvd., in Hauppauge, which includes office space for staff, confidential client intake areas, and conference and training facilities.
The food bank also has donated warehouse space in Calverton, Uniondale, as well as an office facility in Bethpage.
A larger building would consolidate the back-office operations under one roof, thus improving efficiencies, while the additional warehouse space would allow for more storage of food, including fresh produce, meat, and dairy products, and additional space for its emergency resource center.
Programs that would be expanded to reach more people in need include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach initiative, Kids Weekend Backpack Feeding Program, Summer Food Service Program, health and nutrition education, job training, and other programs aimed at helping Long Islanders in need to transition from uncertainty to stability.
An expanded facility would also enable Island Harvest Food Bank to build a working kitchen to demonstrate and teach about proper nutrition and how to prepare foods on a budget.
Additional training rooms would allow for expansion of the Giving Gardens program, that teaches self-sustenance while encouraging community participation in sustainable solutions to fighting hunger on Long Island.
In 2017, Island Harvest Food Bank collected and distributed food to supplement the equivalent of more than approximately 7.5 million meals among 450 community-based organizations that include food pantries, soup kitchens, and others providing supplemental food support to Long Islanders in need.
Island Harvest Food Bank also maintains a stockpile of bottled water, meals-ready-to-eat (MRE), and other emergency supplies, and is a lead agency in providing food, household supplies and technical assistance to communities impacted by disaster.
The food bank works in partnership with the American Red Cross, the Offices of Emergency Management for Nassau and Suffolk counties, the Salvation Army and the United Way of Long Island in disaster-relief efforts locally.
Island Harvest Food Bank is located at 15 Grumman Rd. W, Bethpage. For more information, call 516-294-8528 or visit www.islandharvest.org.