Despite our glamorous reputation for wealth and life’s finer things, the East End community isn’t all champagne wishes and caviar dreams. Each year, Hamptons and North Fork food pantries feed and support hundreds of local families in need from all over the Twin Forks, including our most well-heeled villages and hamlets. This support is especially important during the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving, because no one should be deprived of a festive feast.
“There are a lot of struggling families out here,” East Hampton Food Pantry Board member Robert Wooding says, explaining that many fail to see or understand the need out here. The fact is, for all its wealth, East Hampton actually has the highest poverty rate in all of Suffolk County.
The East End is home to numerous food pantries, and none of them have a shortage of people lining up for help. “There are a lot who come to our food pantry alone,” Wooding continues, pointing out that the elderly are particularly stressed financially, and food donations can make a big difference when they’re on a fixed income.
“We don’t turn anyone away,” Wooding continues. And just as the East Hampton Food Pantry (and others) won’t refuse any visitor, they also accept nearly any food donation, because, as Wooding says, it all has value when the need is dire.
As a result of their annual Harvest Food Drive, East Hampton Food Pantry will hand out turkeys, chickens, hams and more goodies for Thanksgiving during their Holiday Tuesday event this week, making it possible for dozens of families to enjoy an appropriate meal on Thursday. Because of this, “They still have that experience and that joy of the holiday,” Wooding adds, perfectly describing why giving is so vital this time of year.
Find your closest local food pantry from the list below and deliver some holiday cheer to the less fortunate this season. Donations should ideally come in the form of canned goods, dry pasta and non-perishables, while cash donations will buy fresh vegetables and dairy, which are provided each week at East Hampton Food Pantry and others like it. Wooding asks that people avoid donating expired items or food that will spoil or go stale during the window of time between when it’s accepted and distributed. He also makes a special request for cereal—“One of the hardest products for us to get”—as well as tuna, peanut butter and jelly.
Hamptons Food Pantries
East Hampton Food Pantry (159 Pantigo Road) is open for food distribution Tuesdays from 1–6 p.m. Donations are accepted Monday–Thursday, 9 a.m.–2:30 p.m. 631-324-2300, easthamptonfoodpantry.org
Living Water Food Pantry (69 Industrial Road, Wainscott) is open Wednesdays from 6:30–7:30 p.m. and Fridays, 10 a.m.–noon. Thanksgiving donations have been distributed, but regular hours resume next week on December 4 and 6. 631-537-2120
Springs Food Pantry (5 Old Stone Highway, East Hampton) feeds some 10,000 people per year, and the need is growing. Open Wednesdays, 4–6 p.m. 631-324-4791, springsfoodpantry.com
Montauk Food Pantry (St. Therese Parish Center, 67 South Essex Street) offers food to the needy on the third Tuesday of each month, November–April, from 6–7:30 p.m. Next distribution day is December 17. montaukfoodpantry.org
Bridgehampton Community Food Pantry (2357 Montauk Highway) is open Wednesdays, 11 a.m.–1 p.m. Visit them on Facebook for easy recipes and specific donation needs. 631-481-8179
The Sag Harbor Community Food Pantry (44 Union Street) is located in the Old Whalers Church social hall. Open to distribute and accept donations Tuesdays, except holidays, from 10:30 a.m.–noon. 631-725-0437, sagharborfoodpantry.com
Heart of the Hamptons (168 Hill Street, Southampton) is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10 a.m.–noon. Residents between Hampton Bays and Sag Harbor may visit the pantry twice a month. Beyond food, this pantry is currently in need of jackets, coats, gloves and hats, especially for children. “We accept everything,” pantry manager Maribel Ramos says. 631-283-6415, heartofthehamptons.org
St. Rosalie’s Community Food Pantry (St. Rosalie’s Church, 31 East Montauk Highway) in Hampton Bays serves Hampton Bays, East Quogue and Flanders (south of the Big Duck) Tuesday–Thursday, 10 a.m.–2 p.m. 631-728-9461, saintrosalie.com
North Fork Food Pantries
Community Action Southold Town, Inc. (CAST, 316 Front Street, Greenport) offers a food pantry and other resources—ESL courses, advocacy, referrals and more—to low-income individuals on the North Fork. Open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. 631-477-1717, castsoutholdtown.org
John’s Place (13225 Sound Avenue, Mattituck), part of the Mattituck Presbyterian Church, offers food—home cooked dinner, breakfast and brown-bag lunches—as well as clothing and shelter November–March on the first Thursday of each month. 631-298-4277, redeemermattituck.com/johns-place
Shelter Island Food Pantry (32 North Ferry Road) is open year-round at the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church weekdays 10 a.m.–3 p.m. 631-749-0805, sipchurch.org/missions