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Oct 19, 2010 5:31 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press

Food Pantry Strugglies As Season Of Need Approaches

Oct 19, 2010 5:31 PM

Gabrielle Scarpaci, the executive director of the East Hampton Food Pantry, is worried that come winter, the pantry’s cupboards will be bare.

During all of 2009, she said the food pantry served 22,305 people. Since January 1, it has already served 35,000 people at a cost of $200,000 with more than two months remaining in the year.

While the cupboards of the pantry aren’t totally bare now, there isn’t enough money on hand to feed the growing number of people. As of last week, the pantry had a total of $28,000 in its coffers and anticipated it would need $100,000 to cover expenses over the next six months.

“Money’s the thing,” said Ms Scarpaci, although the pantry does accept donations of canned and dry food at its headquarters in the Windmill Village II apartments for seniors on Accabonac Road.

She speculated that the poor economy, combined with people being out of work in the winter, has led to the increase in the numbers of people seeking food. “Winter is always a busy time of year for us,” she said. “People think because we live in the Hamptons, we’re all rich, but that isn’t true. The majority of people who live here are working people. The food pantry serves a variety of people, including families who have been here for generations and seniors on a fixed income.

“A lot of the seniors we serve have only their Social Security check, and that doesn’t go very far,” she said.

The food pantry doesn’t keep records on the people who come in for food. other than to ask them to register by name. Its volunteers don’t ask about income or for any personal information, she said. “We feel that people just walking in the door need food, and we don’t ask any questions.”

The Food Pantry does its own fund-raising and counts on about 40 volunteers, who help pick up food, deliver and unload it, and help out on distribution days, which are Tuesdays, from 4 to 6 p.m. A satellite food pantry at Scoville Hall in Amagansett is open the same day from 2 to 6 p.m.

“We’re always thinking about ways to make money to stay open and give the quantity of food we’ve been giving,” Ms. Scarpaci said. Food is distributed according to the size of a family, with an individual getting about a half a bag once a week, and a small family getting one bag and a family of seven or more getting two bags. The food they get is a mixture of fresh produce, dairy products such as butter, milk and cheese and canned and dried foods such as pasta and rice.

A fund-raising drive, in which high school students and other volunteers carried cans for donations during the Hamptons Film Festival earlier this month raised about $13,000, Ms. Scarpaci said.

A Western Fair held last 
month at the American Legion Hall in Amagansett netted 
another $4,000. It featured games, line dancing, crafts 
and food, cooked and donated by the East Hampton Lions 
Club, a petting zoo and pony rides.

“The fair, though it was a lot of work, was successful and we’ll certainly continue that event next year,” she said. The pantry also held summer movie nights in conjunction with Hamptons Drive-in, twice at Indian Wells Beach in Amagansett and twice at area schools.

The pantry also does a fundraiser in connection with the Polar Bear Plunge, held New Year’s Day at Main Beach in East Hampton.

The Food Pantry orders its food from a variety of places, including Long Island Dairy, 
Point Produce, Landmark Distributors and the local grocery stores, which allow the pantry 
to order large quantities of whatever is on sale in a particular week.

To pick up food, the pantry counts on its volunteers who drive the Windmill Village II truck to and from food distributors.

The Lions Club is looking into obtaining a van for the food pantry, Ms. Scarpaci said.

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provide info on how to donate food goods, please
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Oct 20, 10 6:11 PM
Please come out the Saturday night The Immaculate Conception Church is holding its annual Food Pantry Fundraiser,
Great Food , Great Ice Cream, Great Night for the Community
Come Out and Support a Great Cause
By shock (70), whb on Oct 20, 10 11:26 PM
It's really sad to read these articles.....My heart goes out to those with only social security checks to live on.......... BUT my heart DOES not miss a beat when the illegals are the first in line......Driving up in there brand new cars......And those who have robbed my home. It's real hard to find compassion in this time of need. How sad.
By gallerygirl (29), southampton on Oct 21, 10 6:36 AM
1 member liked this comment
Human beings are human beings and your lack of compassion is sad. You are attempting to stereotype and entire group of people as thieves driving new cars. Disgusting.

This article is meant to engender feelings of compassion and charity, not hate and ignorance.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Oct 26, 10 2:52 PM
I agree. While there are many needy people out there who deserve our help, when you see some arrive in flashy cars and worse, with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth, it's hard to be generous. The price of that pack of cigarettes could have paid for a nioe piece of meat for the family.
By hamptonsnrcit (47), sag harbor on Oct 21, 10 11:01 AM
1 member liked this comment
I also agree! The last time I drive by the food pantry distribution point in Springs,
I saw shiny brand-new Jeeps and Ford Tundras, with people milling about outside texting on their i-Pads and Blackberries, smoking (!) and little kids running around in trendy new clothes from the Gap, wearing Uggs boots. So - there's money to buy that stuff, and the flashy demonstration of conspicuous consumption. But they will still show up for the free cans of Tuna and beans because nobody asks them any ...more
By SisBoomBonacker (106), Hamptons on Oct 21, 10 11:25 AM
2 members liked this comment
You are SOOOOOOO right on..........DISGRACEFUL!
By gallerygirl (29), southampton on Oct 22, 10 8:17 AM
I agree with the other posters about the abuse of the pantry but please do provide information on how to donate money, i.e., where to send a check & is a donation tax-deductible? Thank you for the service you provide to those members of our community in need.
By EastEnder2 (30), Hampton Bays on Oct 22, 10 3:28 PM
I actually agree, but the Exec.Director is quoted in the article saying "money's the thing..." And as great as donations of canned goods may be, perishables may also be needed - meats, milk, . As a child, my family had a few lean holidays & the difference between having PB&J (again) or Thanksgiving turkey was phenomenal. It's been well over 30 years, but i'll never forget the kindness and generosity shown; I just hope to "pay it forward."
By EastEnder2 (30), Hampton Bays on Oct 25, 10 1:13 PM
The pantry is Springs certainly has some folks who are milking the system. I have seen food picked up at the pantry by people arriving in Hummers. The pantry should ask for income verification. A lot of these same folks are also milking everything they can get out of the Springs School at tax payer expense.
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Oct 25, 10 7:43 PM
1 member liked this comment
Wow, 27East has truly become a haven for hate and bigotry. Here you have a story about pantries in need of food and nearly every poster instead chooses to spew hate and bigotry. Sad and disgusting.
By progressnow (556), sag harbor on Oct 26, 10 2:54 PM
2 members liked this comment
It is called reality. If you dont think that loads of folks milk the system here, then you need a major reality check. I want to make sure that the people who REALLY need the food get it.
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Oct 26, 10 8:30 PM
I agree with progressnow. The reality is that you and others here have taken an article about charity outreach and turned it into something ugly and unkind. Instead of encouraging folks to donate, you have given them reasons not to do so and your reasoning is flawed and misleading.
By dagdavid (646), southampton on Oct 27, 10 8:34 AM
DagDavid. I do think that it is important to help out the pantry, yet I become very irritated when I see expensive cars pulling up to the pantry. How can people afford these cars if they cant afford to eat. I think the pantry should do a better job of checking up on people, so as the food goes to those who truly need it, not to the people who abuse the opportunity.
By reality 101 (137), East Hampton on Oct 27, 10 7:17 PM