Facing Hunger

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Island Harvest raises more than $400,000 to feed Long Island’s hungry
Helping The Hungry

From left: Pei-Sze Cheng and Randi Shubin Dresner at Taste of the Harvest.
(Photo by Elizabeth Siris Winchester)

In her opening remarks for the 26th annual Taste of the Harvest at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury on Oct. 15, Randi Shubin Dresner asked the 600 event attendees to think about their morning routines. We get up, we may get ready for work, we may get kids together for school. While routines vary, Dresner noted that for the people in the room, activities usually include having breakfast and packing lunch, but for many others—right here on Long Island—these daily meals that we often take for granted are a struggle.
“There are many children who go to school every day with an empty stomach,” Dresner said. “Many children go to school because they are getting free lunch. Children tell us free lunch keeps them in school.”
Dresner is the president and CEO of Island Harvest Food Bank, which is a leading hunger-relief organization that serves the more than 300,000 Long Islanders living in food insecurity—a state in which people do not get enough food consistently to live active and healthy lives. These Long Islanders are children, senior citizens, veterans and working parents.
Island Harvest has programs targeted to help various groups and reports that about 70,000 people in Nassau and Suffolk counties are fed through their soup kitchens, food pantries and other programs each week.

About 600 people attended the Oct. 15 benefit.
(Photo by Elizabeth Siris Winchester)

Major funding for the organization’s various programs comes from the annual Taste of the Harvest celebration, which this year raised more than $400,000. The gourmet tasting event this year featured chefs, representatives and food samples from more than 40 Long Island restaurants, caterers, country clubs and other food and beverage vendors. Craig Delia of Chris & Tony’s in Syosset, was happy to be among them.
“We like to give back to the community in any way possible,” he explained.

The diverse cuisines represented ranged from American and Italian to Japanese, Indian and Thai, and included products from specialty coffee and tea to meatballs, quiche and donuts. Delia chose his menu based on what people liked to taste at previous shows and his veal Bolognese and chicken Scarpariello was a big hit. Money for Island Harvest was also raised through a silent auction that included big ticket items such as a signed Peyton Manning jersey and Ariana Grande concert tickets.
NBC 4 New York’s Pei-Sze Cheng served as the event emcee for the second year in a row. Cheng regularly investigates challenges that people face across the New York area.
“When [the challenge] impacts kids, veterans and seniors, we really need to do something about it,” Cheng said.

View chef Keith McConnell shares his Peking duck tacos.
(Photo by Elizabeth Siris Winchester)

It was after visiting Island Harvest that Cheng became “extremely impressed with [the organization’s] ability to distribute food to Long Island and to eliminate food waste. So much food gets wasted and they’ve figured out ways to redistribute food to people who need it most.”

Event honorees included PSEG Long Island for its longtime support of Island Harvest’s mission and student ambassador Shivani Patel.
“There are so many Long Islanders who are going to be hungry,” Stacy Parsell, vice president of development, said. “To have the opportunity to give back through a fundraiser is a wonderful feeling.”

 

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