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Long Island News

Food Pantries Prepare For Surge In Clients Amid Coronavirus, Layoffs

Mike Groll

Food pantries on Long Island expect to see a large increase in the number of people who need them as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Paule Pachter, CEO of the regional food bank Long Island Cares, says they’re already dealing with the results of the pandemic.

“We are currently in the midst of trying to deal with two crises at the same time. One the COVID-19 pandemic, and the other related to increased layoffs, terminations and furloughs.”

He says increased unemployment could mean an additional 50,000 people on Long Island turning to food banks for help.

At the same time, the pandemic has already caused some soup kitchens and food pantries to close down.

“The reason they’ve closed their doors is because the majority of the staff and volunteers that work at the food pantries are individuals who are aging. They are people who are in their early-to-mid 70s, and they have to take care of themselves.”

Long Island Cares has also seen a decrease in food donations.

But Pachter says their network will receive federal funding to continue to buy the food they need.

Their programs provide food deliveries through county veteran agencies and to elderly people who can’t leave their homes.

Pachter says they also work with school districts to make sure students in need can still get their breakfasts and lunches.

“However, many of those children also rely on afterschool and weekend meal deliveries, and right now we are trying our best to determine how we can provide the food to them as well.”

The food pantry is also seeking state funding to make sure they can keep their programs operational.

Read the latest on WSHU’s coronavirus coverage here.

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