Nonprofits across Nassau County are still providing meals, counseling and other services to those who need them, explained County Executive Laura Curran on Friday morning at the office of the county’s Veterans Service Agency in East Meadow.
Curran had just announced Nassau’s fourth coronavirus death, a 44-year-old man with an underlying health condition, before explaining that the county’s nonprofits would continue to serve its veterans and senor citizens.
“This is already a vulnerable population,” Curran said, assuring that the Veteran’s Service Agency would remain open, with “moderate modifications” in safe to protect staff and guests, and continue providing transportation, food and counseling to the county’s roughly 55,000 veterans. Inside the VSA is the county’s vet’s mart, which will still be offering a drive-up and delivery program to keep providing food to vets.
“Our [senior] centers are currently closed to programs and activities, but they are open to provide support to all of our seniors,” said Jorge Martinez, of the Nassau County Department of the Aging.
He added that staff would remain on-site and its meals-on-wheels program would still running and bringing food to senior centers, available for pick-up by those in need. Martinez noted that any concerns could be directed to their main phone number at (516) 227 8900.
Curran was also joined by State Senator John Brooks, Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein, Ralph Esposito, of the Nassau County Veterans Service Agency, Paule Pachter, of Long Island Cares, and Carol O’Neill, of EAC Network.
“We recognize that the number of tests being given is increasing and, as a result, we’re gonna be seeing more people identified as having the virus,” Brooks said. “We have to realize that that is a byproduct of the amount of tests being given . . . we will get through this, but there are a lot of challenges ahead.”
There are ten food banks throughout New York that will remain operational through the scourge. “As we did during Superstorm Sandy and as we did during the government the shutdown, we are ready and prepared to serve and protect our residents in need,” said Paule Patcher, the chief executive officer of Long Island Cares, Inc.
He predicted a 20 percent spike in the number of people who rely on meals from food banks, rising from the current 259,000 to an additional 50,000. Of the 349 pantries to which Long Island Cares provides food, some have already closed their doors because the majority of their staff and volunteers are aging and vulnerable.
“I want to help LIers calm down and not be overly concerned about the availability of food that the food banks have,” he said, adding that Long Island Cares currently has 1.75 million pounds of food in its inventory.
Food banks are seeing roughly $300 million in assistance toward food and about $100 million in storage and distributions costs, although Patcher said that he is requesting from Gov. Andrew Cuomo an additional $4 million for more food.
“We certainly have concerns,” he said. “We’re seeing a shortage of volunteers with people fearful of coming out.” In addition, Patcher has seen a 23 percent drop in the amount of donations coming from food drives, although donations only make up 20 percent of the organization’s inventory.
A final concern involves children who, despite continuing to receive food from their school districts, may not have after-school meals or meals over the weekend. “We’re trying our best to determine how we can provide food to them as well,” he said.
“This is a good opportunity to remind you that everyone could play a part in this,” Curran said. “This is a good time as any to remind everyone that kindness and reassurance is just as important right now as everything else going on.”