Long Island Cares opens bigger, better food pantry


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On Tuesday morning, cars were doubled-parked outside the new Freeport location of Long Island Cares, an Island-wide, nonprofit food pantry that distributes groceries to the neediest of residents. 

Long Island Cares volunteers, Freeporters and local elected leaders were on hand for the organization’s grand opening of its newest facility. LIC Chief Executive Officer Paule Pachter said the new facility will enable the organization to expand its services to residents throughout Freeport and the greater South Shore.    

“People on Long Island are still needing emergency food,” Pachter said.

For the last eight years, LIC has had a facility on Pine Street in Freeport. It also has offices in Hauppauge and Lindenhurst. The new, larger facility resembles a mini-supermarket rather than a food pantry is now located on E. Sunrise Highway. The offices also have a larger conference room where Nassau County nonprofit organizations can hold training sessions. The facility also serves as a base for Volunteer Corps, an LIC group of middle and high school students who are learning about hunger issues and lending a hand to the group. 

LIC “is what the community needs, and I want to support them,” said Vincent Marion, of Hicksville, a supporter of the organization.

Grammy Award-winning songwriter Harry Chapin, who died in a car crash on the Long Island Expressway in 1981, founded Long Island Cares to bring hunger relief to the Island. The organization now provides meals to more than 580 community agencies, food pantries, soup kitchens, disability organizations and veteran services. Pachter said that he and his team are excited to continue to support the Freeport community.

“We are dedicated to this village,” Pachter said. “We are dedicated to the people who live in this village. Everyone — government, businesses, community leaders — have welcomed Long Island Cares.” 

In the crowd was Chapin’s widow, Sandra Chapin, the LIC chairwoman. She made no remarks, but waved and smiled when Pachter acknowledged her.  

Anyone from Long Island can seek food assistance from LIC by visiting one of its three locations. According to Jimmy Gonyou, the group’s community events and food drive manager, the process is simple, and only requires that a person fill out a general information form, which asks for information about the number of family members in the household and whether they qualify for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. If so, they will leave with bags of nutritious food. 

“We ask questions because we don’t want them just leaving with food,” Gon-you said. “We want them to provide them with help and resources.”

The Freeport pantry is divided into departments, like a supermarket. With the new space, Gonyou said, the organization is able to provide perishable foods like meats and fresh produce, in addition to canned and dry goods.

LIC also provides job training through its New Paths to Achievement Program, which offers free workshops to low-income women who are single and the head of a household in order to enable them to become financially independent.

“It’s a great honor for me,” Mayor Robert Kennedy said, “to have this organization in the Village of Freeport who look for the people who need help.”