The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in food insecurity for millions of Americans.
And that number includes Islip Town residents: Islip Rotary member Karen Sobel said the number of food-insecure families has spiked this year.
Despite the coronavirus pandemic, Islip Rotary members have continued to prepare donations and help out this holiday season. This Thanksgiving, the Rotary will donate meals, pantry items and toiletries to 30 families residing within Islip, Central Islip and East Islip school districts.
“One of the school districts, when I contacted them, they were just so grateful because they weren’t sure we’d be doing it this year,” Sobel said. “Families are just so grateful, and many are so much in need.”
Sporting face coverings, Rotary members could be spotted outside the Stop & Shop on Sunrise Highway in East Islip Monday morning, Nov. 23, hauling roughly 30 turkeys, dairy items, canned goods and more into their trucks and SUVs.
Thanksgiving project co-chair Sobel said the effort has been going on for roughly 10 years. In the past, Rotary members used to go up and down the aisles of the East Islip grocery store, grabbing necessary items.
Now, it’s a little simpler, Sobel said: Stop & Shop prepares the orders in advance so when Rotary members arrive, they just pay and carry the bags to their vehicles.
On Monday, Rotary members brought the groceries back to the Islip Terrace Fire Department. After the groceries were packaged, they were collected by social workers within the three districts, who will distribute the packages to the families prior to Thanksgiving Day.
According to nonprofit food charity Feeding America, more than 54 million people – including 18 million children – may experience food insecurity in 2020.
Rotary president Astrid Fidelia said the group aims to further identify these families in need by partnering with local and national organizations. Islip Rotary also partners with Stand Up To Poverty, a Hauppauge-based nonprofit which addresses health services, education, housing, and infrastructure of which Fidelia is the co-head.
“It's not about what we get in return, it’s about what we’re giving,” Fidelia said.
The Rotary also partnered with St Mark's Episcopal Church earlier this year to operate a monthly drive-by food drop-off outside the East Islip church. All food is distributed to God’s Provisions Inc., an organization that donates to food pantries throughout Suffolk County. St. Mark’s has been partnering with God’s Provisions for nearly 20 years.
“We’re more like action-oriented people,” Fidelia said, “but we really want to get the message out to people about what Rotary is, and what we do. Sometimes people need to see some good news and it inspires them to do more.”
The weekend after Thanksgiving, Islip Rotary members will be positioned outside of the Stop & Shop in East Islip to collect donations for the Salvation Army.
A holiday coat drive, organized by the Rotary and East Islip Chamber of Commerce, will also take place this season. Coats are dry-cleaned and donated to families in need, Fidelia said.
“We like to treat people well; everyone is valuable,” Fidelia said. “Everyone is important. We want to make people feel loved. So, this is a time when we share love."