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NOSH, North Shore Soup Kitchen join forces at St. Rocco’s

Ingredients now provided, not just cooked meals

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Food provider NOSH and North Shore Soup Kitchen, which joined forces in July, have been feeding the local communities out of the Church of St. Rocco in Glen Cove since late August.

“Of course, we’re there on a month by month basis because when they can use their parish hall again, they need to function as a church, so we are there for now,” said Courtney Callahan, the founder of NOSH, which stands for North Shore. “We have so much room. We have all these refrigerators and freezers so that we can really feed people and we try to get fresh produce and you need refrigerators for that.”

Prior to working out of St. Rocco, the group used Glen Cove High School to sort, store and organize the food. Callahan said she was thankful to Glen Cove City School District Superintendent Dr. Maria Rianna and Glen Cove High School Assistant Principal Allan Hudson for providing NOSH with a space to operate. But when the district had to get ready for the school year, the organization had to find another place to go, which ended up being at St. Rocco.

Rev. Daniel Nash of St. Rocco said that he is delighted to have NOSH work out of the church.

NOSH had not always partnered up with North Shore Soup Kitchen, however. NOSH started out as an effort by Callahan, a member of the North Shore Soup Kitchen Board of Directors and other local leaders to ensure that no one on the North Shore went hungry.

“Courtney Callahan, got the idea during the pandemic outbreak that if we couldn’t cook in the soup kitchen and kids can’t go to school, how is anybody going to eat?” Maddie Rubenstein, of North Shore Soup Kitchen, recalled.

Volunteers for NOSH would buy groceries at retail, put ingredients for two meals in what’s called NOSH bags and deliver the bags of food to families once a week. The meals are designed to feed a family of five and if a family has more than five members, they can receive two bags instead.

And it was toward the beginning of the pandemic that Callahan was driving around for 14 hours a day making these deliveries. At that time, the money to drive the effort was coming from fundraising.

“There was a point where we were struggling a little bit because we are new and you have to spend a lot of time fundraising and we were feeding so many people,” Callahan said.

So when Rubenstein offered to adopt NOSH as one of the North Shore Soup Kitchen’s programs in July, Callahan said she was thrilled. “It was a miracle.,” Callahan said. “Nothing better could have happened that day, except for world peace.”

“[The soup kitchen] really saved NOSH,” she said. “They run things so well. They have great experience in balancing their annual budgets and they have pivoted to a completely different model which is amazing because they have a beautiful model.”

The North Shore Soup Kitchen has been feeding the community for 31 years, operating from First Baptist Church of Glen Cove until the pandemic hit.

“The North Shore Soup Kitchen wasn’t functioning because we couldn’t cook in a confined area,” Rubenstein explained, “and we couldn’t serve lunches to our guests cafeteria style safely.”

With the adoption of NOSH, the North Shore Soup Kitchen is now helping to provide ingredients instead of cooked meals. “It was very important that the soup kitchen was a part of us because they have so much respect and integrity in that part of the non-profit industry,” Callahan said.

“North Shore Soup Kitchen, which is a 31-year-old organization, took this program and we have resources in the form of a bank account from donations, 80 volunteers and the rented church property. All of that then went to NOSH to help these families,” Rubenstein said.  “Today, we’re feeding about 350 to 370 families a week.”

It’s really shifting the business model to accommodate a changing world in which we can not cook and serve cafeteria style indoors, but we can safely deliver groceries,” Rubenstein added. “The mission is exactly the same — feed our neighbors who are struggling.”

For now, approximately 120 volunteers are working out of St. Rocco sorting, freezing, bagging and lifting food. They are also delivering food to those who need it and going to Whole Foods Market to pick up food that can’t be placed on the shelf.

The operation at this point, Rubenstein said, is huge.

“We’re still concentrating on our contactless delivery because Covid has not disappeared,” Callahan said. “Our soft goal is that every family in this area knows that if something happens with Covid or the economy, that they will never go hungry.”

Rubenstein said that volunteers and donations are always needed.

“People asked how it was done and I said it was all done on good vibes,” Callahan said.

If someone knows of a neighbor, friend or family member in the North Shore that is hungry, they can give the NOSH hotline a call at (516) 366-0277.