The director of the Sag Harbor Food Pantry on the growing need in the community and how neighbors can help.
What role does the food pantry play in the community?
We are a very substantial part of the Sag Harbor Community. With so many people out of work and with this time of year, the number of families continue to increase dramatically. Seasonal workers no longer have seasonal work. During Thanksgiving week we had 85 families and this past week we had 68. Any family that lives in Sag Harbor can use the food pantry and we try to give them enough food so that each person in their family can have 2 ½ meals.
How do the needs of the food pantry’s patrons change throughout the year?
We serve food and the need for food doesn’t change throughout the year. The people who come here are in need and we are here to help. This year things were so tough that even seasonal workers who could find work during the summer, continue to use the food pantry year round. The people who use our food pantry need us and continue to use us year round.
What type of food is typically donated to the pantry?
We get lots of pasta, canned food and canned soups, and the great thing about that is you can always make a meal out of those items. We also get some really exotic items when people clean out their food pantry when they leave for the winter. We’ve had fancy pastas and rice and this week we’ve had a jar of caviar. But you’d be surprised that there is always someone who knows what the food is and is really excited to have it
What types of donations are most needed?
We are always in need of money, so we can purchase fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese, butter and eggs along with meat items. We do receive bread donations from Panera Bread, The Golden Pear, Starbucks, Bagel Buoy and Cromers Market. In the summer we receive donations from the Country Garden farm stand and the EECO Farm’s food pantry garden. Provisions donates a lot of food too. But we always need more fresh food.
With the upcoming holidays, do you have anything special planned?
We’ll have a Santa come on the 21st and we are handing out stockings to all the children filled with little things like toys, candy and toothbrushes donated by the North Haven Ladies Villages Improvement Society. We’ll also have turkeys and hams and everything they will need to create a lovely meal.
What’s one thing you’d like the community to know about the food pantry that they might otherwise not know?
We are receiving a lot of donations now, it seems to be a time of giving; but our donations tend to fall off after the New Year. We would like people to keep the food pantry in their minds through the year so we can continue to service all the needy families in our area. We try to put out as much publicity as possible in the newspaper and stay involved in many local activities. We just joined the Sag Harbor Chamber of Commerce and participated in Harborfest and the Halloween Parade this year.
Who is a typical volunteer and how do they get involved?
Well most of them are retired people because they have the time to do it because it’s during the week. They find it very fulfilling and gratifying. They feel like they are doing something special and needy for people who are in need. It gives them something to do and doing something wonderful. All the volunteers are fairly new, they came in the last five years. When directors changed and the hours changed, we got a new group of people.
Why did you take over as director?
I took over about a year ago, around Thanksgiving last year. I had been at the food pantry for a long time and when Lillian resigned, I had worked very closely with her ordering and organizing the food stuffs. I was probably the one that had the most information on what was going on. And I enjoy very much that I do. I love gathering the food and seeing how terrific it all looks on the table and where it all goes. It’s very rewarding. I volunteer about 20 hours a week picking up food, making contacts and ordering. I like doing that part of the job.