This Thanksgiving, give what you can


This Thanksgiving is shaping up to be one of the most difficult in a long time for many Long Island families who were adversely affected by the economic calamity brought on by the pandemic.
First, there were record job losses, layoffs, reduced work hours and, in some cases, voluntary job losses because of child/family care issues. To make matters worse, we now have supply-chain issues, labor shortages and rising costs for food and other goods that amplify the hardship for many people who continue to struggle.
Last year, food prices rose about 4 percent when few could afford that kind of an increase. This price hikes were far above the rate of inflation. Essentials like meat, poultry, fish and eggs rose even higher, and are predicted to continue increasing in cost. Price spikes are driven mainly by supply-chain instability, labor shortages, gasoline price increases and climate-change issues.
In the end, what does this mean for the average person raising a family on Long Island? It’s frightening, actually, and adds more stress to an already difficult time for far too many people.
Families hoping for a good, healthy holiday-style classic meal must find the money to somehow put that turkey dinner on the table, keep gas in the car to get to work and school and keep their homes warm this winter. It’s frustrating, because there is so much pressure this time of year to spend on gifts and fancy meals, so add the stress of advertisers bombarding us with messages of how we must provide this big, fancy holiday meal. And yet, at our food bank we are hearing more and more about families who know that it just won’t happen without support from Long Island’s network of food pantries supported by Island Harvest, along with its direct-distribution programs to our neighbors in need.

Yet despite the adversity, there remains optimism and a sturdy beacon of hope on Long Island’s horizon. On the other side of the struggles so many are facing are the generous friends who want to help us as we distribute more than 16,000 holiday meal packages to families in the weeks ahead. And we are so grateful for their generosity.
If we can successfully distribute all those meals this year, imagine the smiles on the faces and warmth in the hearts of 16,000 families that will have the opportunity to sit together and enjoy something that many of us take for granted.

Randi Shubin Dresner is president and CEO of Island Harvest, one of Long Island’s largest food banks.