During the holidays, Northport resident Barbara Bolen had two at-risk groups on her mind: struggling restaurant owners and people who go hungry.
After Bolen told a Northport restaurant owner that she wanted to donate a meal to a family in need, the takeout project was born.
Local entities St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and Islip Rotary quickly joined the endeavor, determined to target the South Shore, including the Great South Bay area, Oakdale, Patchogue, Sayville and more.
Now until March, the groups are feeding the hungry and supporting the struggling local restaurant businesses through the South Shore Takeout Project.
The two local groups will conduct fundraisers throughout South Shore communities, asking people to purchase restaurant gift cards so people can purchase a meal for their families. St. Mark’s will then donate the cards to Long Island Cares affiliate God’s Provisions, which works to supply church food pantries, senior communities and shelters throughout Suffolk County.
Restaurant businesses are down to about 30 percent of their usual income, St. Mark’s rector, very reverend Richard Simpson, said. They rely mainly on takeout or curbside pickup for revenue.
“The pandemic has wreaked havoc with our economy,” the reverend said. “People have lost jobs and can barely feed their families.”
Organizer Irene Ross said she hopes the purchased gift cards are “substantial enough” to purchase full meals for families, noting that some restaurants have family or catering packages that can feed an entire family for one night.
“We know everyone is experiencing some level of financial distress with the pandemic, so why not pool your resources with others, whether friends, neighbors, co-workers, local businesses, clubs?” Ross, a rotary and church member, said. “If many people chip in, that becomes a big number that can feed an entire family.”