People Helping People…Montauk Food Pantry

by Sue Giustino

Last month I had a chance to speak with Alice Houseknecht from the Montauk Food Pantry– located in the lower level of the St. Therese Parish Center- 67 South Essex Streetabout the increasing demand for their food distribution service. Along with this high demand, comes an increasing need for supplies to insure that all families can receive enough food assistance. Alice and her staff work tirelessly stocking shelves, bagging, and distributing the much needed food supplies to our friends and neighbors in Montauk and East Hampton.

Prior to the pandemic, the Montauk Food Pantry served about 90 families. Now their distribution has tripled to over 275 families, and is expected to continue to increase.  Fortunately, they have coordinated with the East Hampton Pantry, each offering drive through pick-up on an alternating bi-weekly schedule.

Montauk’s last pick-up was Tuesday May 12th,   from 5-7:30 pm, East Hampton will be Tuesday May 19thth– from 1-6pm, and so on. This enables recipients who have families to feed to utilize both locations as needed. It seems many of the families are our seasonal workers who are out of work at a time when it usually begins to pick up again: restaurant help, hotel/motel staff, house/hotel cleaning staff, as well as care takers. The very people whom without, our booming vacation town could not survive.  “Lifting the burden of food may help.” Commented Alice.

Pairing up with Elitefeats , from May 9-17th the food pantry ran a fund raiser to help with their increasing needs. In addition, the outpouring of support from many local groups and individuals has been wonderful- too numerous to mention them all.  Alice said that the best way to show support – as many people have already been doing- is to send a check made out to the Montauk food pantry- PO Box 997, Montauk, NY 11954. This enables staff to coordinate products needed, availability of times, and staffing along with the scheduled deliveries and pick-ups.

Besides the Food Panty, there are other avenues of resources for assistance. Some of them include: The East Hampton Department of Human Services who are preparing and freezing meals that are being delivered to community members 60 years old and over. Those in need of assistance can call 631-329-6939 for pick-up or delivery service, Monday- Friday 8am-4pm.

East End Cares has partnered with the Clam Shell Foundation  on fundraising activities and to identify homebound people whom are then paired with a volunteer. The volunteers will shop for food and/or pharmacy needs helping to ensure that everyone is cared for.

As always, in a time of need our instinctual goodness and desire to help emerges. Whether it’s by donating, volunteering, helping a neighbor who can’t shop, caring for a health compromised or elderly loved one- every little bit counts.

Again, a big thank you to all who are going above and beyond; our volunteers, essential workers, healthcare workers and caregivers. You are greatly appreciated for your daily selfless acts of kindness.

Be safe, be smart, use recommended safety gear, and care for one another!