East End Mobilizes to Address Food Insecurity

“Feed the Need” Appeal Launched to Support Local Food Pantries

Citing a rapidly growing economic crisis related to the Covid-19 pandemic, community leaders are banding together to raise funds to address food insecurity on the East End.  A coalition of food pantry directors has joined with local elected officials, clergy and business leaders to launch a broad appeal for donations to food distribution agencies who are already seeing a rapid increase in the number of individuals seeking assistance. The group has named the campaign “Feed the Need”.  All donations are tax deductible and go directly to local food pantries according to need.

The idea originated when Bridgehampton resident Dan Shedrick reached out to Southampton Supervisor Jay Schneiderman with a question about how to help the local workforce cope with the economic crisis.  “There is a humanitarian crisis,’ said Mr. Shedrick.  “75% of working Americans have been financially hurt during this pandemic.  People want to help, but they don’t know how best to help.”  The fundamental problem, according to Schneiderman, is that workforce of “The Hamptons” is spread throughout the east end region.  “If our goal is to help the local workforce, we need to think regionally,” said Schneiderman, “we need an East End fundraising appeal.”  Schneiderman reached out to other community leaders to get the ball rolling.

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele was one of the first on board and suggested using an existing not-for-profit foundation headed by Claudia Pilato, called “All for The East End” (AFTEE), as an umbrella agency to direct funds to the local level.  AFTEE, founded in 2013 to increase funding resources to the nonprofits of the east end, was a perfect vehicle to launch the Feed the Need campaign. Hilton Crosby, director of Heart of the Hamptons, the largest food pantry in Southampton Town, joined their efforts and work began in earnest on the “Feed the Need” Campaign.

The team is assembling a board of directors consisting of local clergy, advocates of minority populations, industry leaders from agriculture and fishing, and philanthropists.  An advisory committee of food pantry representatives will help guide the group’s relief efforts.  Fundraising targets are being set and a large-scale marketing plan is being developed.

Through the organization, donors can link directly and donate to specific food pantries or donate through AFTEE selecting either:   All East End, South Fork or North Fork.

“Feed the Need expects to raise significant funds to support the escalating needs of our food pantries to alleviate food insecurity in our local community,” said AFTEE Founder and President Claudia Pilato, “The goal is to quickly and efficiently get money where it is needed most.”

“During this coronavirus crisis, we are seeing more and more families turning to food pantries for assistance,” said Hilton Crosby, “We are so busy distributing food that it will be helpful to have a fundraising arm like ‘Feed The Need’ to help generate funds to expand our operations.”  Heart of the Hamptons is struggling working out of the basement of a church but is looking to expand into a more permanent ground level facility.

State Assemblyman Fred Thiele stated, “Food insecurity is one of our biggest concerns as we continue to experience economic disruption on the East End due to COVID-19. The impact to our service industries is particularly severe. The Feed the Need campaign marshals the resources of both our seasonal and year round community to insure no person goes hungry. We are all in this together. Together we can help our food pantries do what they could not do individually.”