by Ken Giustino
I received a few calls and noticed some disturbing Facebook posts on Monday about the Montauk Food Pantry refusing food donations because it was offered from the supporters of the MAGA-Gras parade for Donald Trump that rode out from Seaford to Montauk on Sunday, Oct 18th.
It didn’t ring true to me, as I know how hard director Alice Houseknecht and her staff of Volunteers work to serve our community’s needs and to be sure no local families are hungry. I spoke to Alice who explained to me “The Montauk Food Pantry is a non-profit, non-partisan organization. The IRS 501(c)3 regulations state that under this status an organization cannot endorse or oppose candidates or a political party. The organizer of the Trump rally, Shawn Farash, was made aware of the Montauk Food Pantry’s dilemma days in advance of the rally. When asked if the pantry’s acceptance would impose photo ops and media promotion of the event, Farash answered, ‘yes’. Therefore, we had no recourse but to decline. Montauk Food Pantry would have been in defiance of IRS rules.” Had the food been accepted they could lose its 501(c)3 status.
I hope this sets the record straight, Alice and her team of Volunteers work hard and donate countless hours to serve Montauk and East Hampton. They only deserve our thanks for what they do!
Since the pandemic, the volume of food needed is not possible to inventory and source food as it has been done in the past, it is sourced through local businesses, and Long Island Cares. Money is what’s needed for the pantry’s continued success. If you’d like to help send a check to: Montauk Food Pantry, PO Box 997, Montauk, NY 11954