The early stages of the coronavirus pandemic were a time of uncertainty and fear. High unemployment resulted in hunger among adults and children alike. Limited access to school nutrition programs created a frightening scenario for many families.
To make sure local families have access to whole and nutritious foods, Locust Valley’s Courtney Callahan, a member of the North Shore Soup Kitchen board of directors, founded Nosh, an extension of the soup kitchen.
Nosh first provided emergency meals for the hungry during a time when Covid-related regulations restricted serving meals, and lines at grocery stores were growing. Although Nosh was established in 2020, it remains a vital resource to the North Shore.
As Nosh reached its three-year anniversary this month, it can boast having provided groceries equaling nearly 500,000 meals to residents across the North Shore, primarily from Roslyn to Bayville.
According to Linda Eastman, the organization’s operations manager, February recorded 140 walk-in recipients at the organization’s headquarters on School Street in Glen Cove. The first week of March, there were 218 walk-in recipients, a 78 percent increase over prior months.
“Now that we’ve seen the numbers rising, it’s even more important for us to really con
tinue this mission and make sure that we can provide for all the families and the rising numbers that are coming to us,” said Christine Rice, Nosh co-founder and director of the Glen Cove Senior Center.
Presently, Nosh is making 245 deliveries per week to local families, with 30 volunteer drivers. Eastman said the organization is seeking more Spanish-speaking drivers and volunteers.
“Every single person who has been involved with Nosh, whether it was dropping off pasta or peanut butter one time or someone writing a big check, every single person who has been involved in Noshhas enabled us to continue,” Callahan said.
Although NOSH has helped to serve the community for the past three years, the organization faced its own hardships.
Lacking a budget to pay rent, Noshneeded a rent-free location to operate from. Alan Hudson the principal, of Glen Cove High School, thought that the school building might be able to provide a space adjacent to its own food pantry. He involved district superintendent Maria Rianna; together they created a first home for Nosh.
The high demand for food forced the organization outgrow its home at the high school, and Nosh moved to The Church of St. Rocco.
The effort grew again with demand as the pandemic dragged on, and Noshmoved to the Glen Cove’s James E. Donohue Veterans of Foreign War Post 347 with adequate space to store all the food. Volunteers also had enough space to pack bags with emergency meal kits to distribute from the parking lot to walk-ins or van drivers who deliver to homes.
However, the permanent home didn’t last long. A fire broke out at the post in 2021. No one was inside the building at the time of the fire, and no injuries were reported.
According to Rice, 200 deliveries were destroyed by the blaze. While the Glen Cove Fire Department responders saved the building, everything on the second floor was lost, including 23 refrigerators and freezers full of meat and produce and a few thousand pounds of dry goods — enough to feed the families for two months.
Nosh needed a new home base, again.
The need was generously met by The People’s Pantry of Oyster Bay, St. Hyacinth Church, The View Restaurant and Grill, and the Glen Cove Senior Center, each provided temporary work spaces until Nosh contracted for its present home last September at 32 School St., a former art studio owned by Peter Holdman, the owner of God Loves You in downtown Glen Cove.
After meeting with three commercial businesses that were interested in the space, Holdman said he turned down the prospective renters when he heard that Nosh was interested.
The new permanent home on School Street allows the organization to welcome additional walk-in clients who can pick items from Nosh’s food pantry to customize their meals.