Even as food prices rise, Long Island Cares continues to feed those in need

Long Island Cares staff posed for a photo during a recent food drive, shown above. // Photo by Amelia Sack/Long Island Advocate

By Amelia Sack

A warehouse stocked with produce, cereals, pasta and more remains full at Long Island Cares: The Harry Chapin Food Bank in Hauppauge despite the rising cost of food.

Inflation is still a large concern for many Americans. With Thanksgiving and the holiday season fast approaching, many families are feeling the pressure. Long Island Cares, though, has many programs in place to help those in need.

Long Island Cares Inc. serves more than 300 agencies across the Island, including food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and homes for older adults. The nonprofit also purchases from local farms, aiming to put money back into the local economy. Though the organization has faced several setbacks because of the rising cost of food, it’s still feeding the hungry.

Dr. Herman Berliner, professor of economics at Hofstra University, said inflation affects everyone on Long Island, one of the wealthiest regions of the country. “Virtually everything that you’re buying is going up in price,” Berliner said. Long Island Cares has seen this firsthand.

Many shelves in the warehouse are bare due to a lack of USDA products and foods from inflation.
As a result of inflation, many shelves at the Long Island Cares warehouse are bare because of a lack of supplies from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Robert LaBarbara, chief procurement and supply chain officer for Long Island Cares, said the cost of food is driving up demand at the food bank.

“We take for granted that we have food.”

Robert Labarbara, Long Island Cares

He noted that because of the rising cost of food, many clients are visiting pantries more often than before. This has caused Long Island Cares to increase its purchasing. He also said the organization is paying more for supplies than in previous years owing to inflation.

Gus’s Grocery Corner is a grab-and-go food pantry inside of the warehouse. Clients can take what they need, when they need it. // Photos by Amelia Sack/Long Island Advocate
A worker moving boxes in the warehouse.

Despite shortages and high prices, Long Island Cares carries on in its mission. LaBarbara said there are regular teams of student and corporate volunteers who organize food drives to help those in need and help ease product shortages. The volunteers remain passionate about the cause, he added.

This year, Long Island Cares has come up with a new initiative to help give back. The organization’s fifth annual Adopt-a-Family Thanksgiving program is going multi-cultural. The new addition will provide both traditional and culturally diverse meals for Central and South American, Caribbean Islander and Kosher communities. The Adopt-a-Family program is the organization’s largest and most successful food drive.

William Gonyou, the community events and food drive manager, said Long Island Cares started the program after feedback from clients. He said he hopes to bring families their perfect Thanksgiving meals in their time of need.

While any donations are helpful, he said, people often don’t think about giving foods that they may not eat themselves. “Think about some of your friends or families that may celebrate differently,” he suggested. This year, the goal is to feed 7,500 families through the new initiative.

Those interested in adopting a family and helping provide a home-cooked meal this season can select what type of meal they want to provide on the Long Island Cares website.