Margarita Grasing, executive director of Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Centre, “could be doing better,” she said with a tired chuckle.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, she’s been tending to the needs of the Hispanic community, as she’s done for decades now, but on overdrive. She’d just received a call from the Rockville Centre School District asking for assistance with getting Spanish-speaking families accustomed to at-home learning. And, she’s trying to remind people to fill out the 2020 Census.
But one of her top priorities has been keeping the food pantry stocked and running for those in need, the number of which has increased since the pandemic began. Last week the pantry had to shut for a few days after a staff member contracted Covid-19. After being disinfected, the pantry is open again, but it needs help with supplies.
“This is the first time that the need has been this big,” Grasing said. “And it’s not only Hispanics — we don’t turn anybody back. The door is open to anyone who needs help.”
The Hispanic Brotherhood’s pantry will feed roughly 50 seniors and 37 families tomorrow alone, and those in need can make arrangements to pick up food at their facility on Clinton Avenue or have someone deliver.
Grasing explained that many seniors cannot get out of the house to get food, and families are suffering from job loss and still waiting on unemployment checks.
“All we’re doing is a band-aid,” she said. “This is much bigger than any of us. We don’t know where we’re going with this virus, and it’s scary.”
People can donate to the Hispanic Brotherhood’s food pantry at 59 Clinton Ave. between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. They are currently in need of:
Canned Veggies (any type)
The Experience Pantry, at The Experience Vineyard Church in Rockville Centre, has also seen a spike in families in need. While it typically serves 90 families per week, that number has steadily increased week by week, and they are now providing for 180 households.
Julie Longwood, the pantry director, attributes this both to unemployment during the pandemic and a number of food pantries having to close across Long Island.
“There’s a lot of need around us all the time that we are typically not aware of,” she said. “There’s usually different places to go, but with so many pantries shut down, people don’t have as many options.”
In addition, buying food for the pantry has become more difficult as supermarkets are often out of certain meats and non-perishable items during this time. Longwood said any donations are appreciated.
People can drop off food from Tuesday to Friday, between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., or can contact her via email to up different time at firstname.lastname@example.org. The pantry is especially seeking:
Rockville Centre’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Center is currently accepting donations as well. Since the pop-up food bank opened a little over a month ago, the need has tripled from 20 to 60 families per week.
Volunteer Rena Riback posts a list of needed items each week on social media. These items can be dropped off at the MLK Center, at 150 N. Centre Ave, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Fridays. The MLK Center cannot accept direct cash donations, so those interested in making a monetary donation toward poultry, meat and produce can email email@example.com to find out how to donate.