Long Island food pantries struggle to stay afloat as inflation drives up food insecurity
Long Island food pantries are struggling to keep up with demand as inflation drives more families toward food insecurity.
Branches Long Island has been forced to pivot and reschedule some orders as its donation bins quickly empty out.
"We're getting a lot more families coming in, a lot more than there was a year ago or even six months ago,” Robin Davis, of Branches Long Island.
Elizabeth Deboe lives in Shirley with her husband and 4-year-old daughter. She says times are tough and relies on Branches Long Island to help keep food on the table.
“I fell behind so much in the past year, and they tremendously helped out a lot,” she says. “They made it possible for my daughter to have a Christmas when I wasn't going to be able to."
Branches Long Island puts together Blessing Boxes, where families pick out the items and the team customizes the boxes for pickup.
However, the organization says it could not complete some orders last week because it was out of items, including diapers.
"Diapers is a big one. Sizes five and six are the most needed and the ones we have none of,” Davis says. "If it's flying out of the pantries, it's flying out of our warehouse."
Long Island Cares CEO Paule Pachter says inflation is to blame. From 2021 to 2022, the food bank saw a 60% increase in those suffering from food insecurity.
"In 2021, we were still dealing with issues related to COVID, so the numbers were up significantly. These numbers, because of inflation, are up higher than they were during COVID,” Pachter says.
Deboe urges residents to support pantries like Long Island Cares and Branches Long Island, as they are always looking for donations.
“Step up and help donate food to the pantry or to Branches of Long Island, especially because they can use it and they help so many people throughout the year,” she says.
Branches Long Island turned to TikTok to make videos of the team putting together Blessing Boxes. It has since garnered millions of views and received donations from across the globe.