The holiday season is behind us, taking with it the festivities that often mask the grim reality of everyday life for some Long Islanders. Too many of our fellow residents simply do not have enough food to eat. That was true before Congress cut food stamp grants in November and before it let long-term unemployment benefits expire last week. The needy include the unemployed and the underemployed — victims of our persistent economic struggles — as well as some two-income families whose combined wages are just not enough to get by on Long Island. Our local food pantries are doing their best to meet the demand, but virtually all say they are coming up short. They need your help.
Individual stories of want are heartbreaking. Senior citizens skipping meals, especially toward the end of each month. Single mothers scrambling when schools are not in session because their children no longer are receiving breakfast and lunch there. Families counting every dollar every day. Island Harvest and Long Island Cares, the region’s two major food banks, distributed more than 21 million pounds of food and supplies last year. It wasn’t enough. And the need is only going to grow.
Winters are difficult, and long. They can be tough to get through, physically and psychologically. As we cope with our own problems, it’s easy to forget about the less fortunate among us. Don’t overlook them. Pick a food bank or pantry — there are a lot of good ones out there — and please do what you can to help.