After a fire destroyed its Glen Cove headquarters last month, NOSH, a food delivery service and a program of the North Shore Soup Kitchen, has relocated to St. Hyacinth’s Church, in Glen Head, until it can find a permanent location.
The fire, on Aug. 24 at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 347, resulted in the total loss of NOSH’s freezing and refrigeration equipment, as well as its inventory of thousands of pounds of food — enough to feed its client base for two months. The loss was catastrophic, but did not stop the program’s volunteers from continuing its mission.
“People are being very dear,” NOSH founder Courtney Callahan said, “giving what they have or what they can, with great love.”
The fire left the nonprofit organization scrambling to find ways to continue serving the 500-plus families in Bayville, Glen Cove, Locust Valley, Roslyn and Sea Cliff who rely on the weekly groceries. From the start, community members, from business owners to civic organizations to individuals, found ways to donate, and drivers continued delivering food.
NOSH was founded in March 2020 to meet the increased need for food assistance created by the coronavirus pandemic. It is staffed by volunteers who each week deliver free emergency NOSHBags, groceries needed to prepare two meals for a family of four, with additional bags for larger families. The food that NOSH distributes is donated by Long Island charities and local businesses.
NOSH is now in the process of restocking, which will be possible now that it has a location for drop-offs, walk-ins and storage. It reopened on Monday for donations at St. Hyacinth’s, and stocked the NOSHBags with a bonus treat: apples donated by the Green Vale School from its orchard.
“The students picked the apples from the orchard,” Callahan said, noting that the fruit is fresh and pesticide-free. “It was a really nice way to kick things off.”
Callahan said that multiple organizations have offered to pitch in and give what they can. Living Water for Women is donating boxes of macaroni and cheese, she said, because that is a must-have item for families with children in school, and Orkestai Farms is donating fresh tomatoes. Families have also brought in food grown in their gardens or yards, from basil to pears.
But NOSH is still in need of the basics: rice and beans, pasta, canned tuna.
“So many families are depending on us,” Callahan said.
Linda Eastman, the group’s operations manager, added that other food pantries, as well as churches and temples, have stepped in to help. People’s Pantry, in Oyster Bay, and the North Country Reform Temple donated food, and some volunteers donated several hundred dollars’ worth of fresh vegetables, Eastman said. NOSH has also received donations from Island Harvest, and with all of the community support, has provided food to about 200 people since the fire. It is hoping to increase that number over the next several weeks, she said. Deliveries resumed just nine days after the fire.
In the meantime, recipients were texted about their options for other pantries. St. Rocco’s extended its hours to accommodate more families, and Trinity Lutheran Church added an additional day each week for its pantry. The View Grill cleared space for NOSH to store food, and allowed it to set up tents outside and distribute bags to 20 volunteer drivers once a week.
NOSH opened at St. Hyacinth’s on Monday and by the end of Tuesday, Eastman said, enough donations had come in to fill bags.
The group is still without refrigeration, so it can’t accept meat or dairy products. “We were used to providing perishables, so to me it feels incomplete to not be able to give them,” Eastman said. Still, she said, she is grateful for everything people have done. “The way the community has reached out, wanting to help, has really been a beautiful thing,” she said.
There have also been generous monetary donations — nearly $100,000 so far, according to Christine Rice, the chairwoman of North Shore Soup Kitchen/NOSH.
Glen Cove resident John Barra, manager of Bob’s Discount Furniture’s Nesconset location, wanted to help when he learned about the fire. Barra contacted the furniture chain’s management, and Bob’s presented NSSK/NOSH with a $10,000 donation to help it recover.
Rice expressed her gratitude to Bob’s and to Barra, and also said that all of the volunteers associated with NSSK/NOSH have been “very gratified” by the widespread community response to this emergency.
There are several ways for those who wish to help with the recovery to donate: on the NSSK/NOSH website, www.northshoresoupkitchen.org/donation; by mail, to the North Shore Soup Kitchen, P.O. Box 168, Glen Cove, N.Y. 11542; via Venmo, @NOSH-NSSK; or a GoFundMe campaign.
The fire also damaged the VFW Hall at 15 Hill St. in Glen Cove, and the entire upstairs had to be gutted. “We’re insured, of course,” Commander Henryk Nowicki said, “but it will never cover the cost to rebuild what our World War I veterans built over 100 years ago.”
Those who wish to donate can make checks payable to VFW Post 347 and mail them to the post at 15 Hill St., Glen Cove, N.Y. 11542.