Hungry and Homeless Thanksgiving for Some New Yorker

See article as originally posted on Public News Service

November 25, 2014
By:Mark Scheerer

Photo credit: Kyle James/Flickr.

Photo credit: Kyle James/Flickr.


MINEOLA, N.Y. – Thanksgiving week finds New York nonprofits that focus on hunger and homelessness stretched tight, even two years after the havoc of Superstorm Sandy.

Randi Shubin Dresner, president and chief executive of Island Harvest, says it’s been a “tough year.” The food pantries and agencies her group serves have requested some 40,000 Thanksgiving turkey donations, though she says they’re usually able to only provide 12,000 to 15,000.

“We’ve always been short,” she says. “But this year in particular we’re falling about 2,000 turkeys short of where we wanted to be at this point in the season.”

On the homelessness front, a new report using U.S. Census and Department of Education figures called America’s Youngest Outcasts estimates there are more than 258,000 homeless children in New York state.

The report, from the nonprofit Homeless Children America, also ranks New York 24th among states in terms of the risk for child homelessness.

The Interfaith Nutrition Network operates soup kitchens on Long Island, two emergency shelters for families, and one for single men. Also known as The INN, Jean Kelly, the organization’s executive director, says their population continues to fluctuate two years after Sandy.

“The big challenge is who’s eligible for housing through the system,” she says. “You have to really prove you are in dire need and have no other resources and recourse for where you could sleep. So it is a very difficult place to be in – not to have housing.”

Shubin Dresner adds that donating Thanksgiving turkeys is more than a “once a year” gesture.

“Sitting at your table with your family, enjoying a good holiday meal is important,” she says. “It’s very symbolic that you’re able to keep your family together, you’re able to provide for your family, whatever it may be to you. We want to help people with that.”

Those interested in lending a hand can drop off frozen turkeys at Panera Bread restaurants on Long Island. Turkeys and canned foods can be left at any McDonald’s.

Both Shubin Dresner and Kelly say they do have things they are thankful for this week.

“I am incredibly thankful for living on Long Island and knowing that Long Islanders really care about their neighbors in need,” says Shubin Dresner.

Adds Kelly, “We have seen the generosity that’s always been here return to its usual bountifulness, so we are grateful for that.”

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