PSEG Long Island’s Power to Feed Long Island initiative has exceeded its summer goal and raised the equivalent of 21,944 meals. That is nearly 1,000 more than the initial goal of 21,000, and will supply local families that struggle with food insecurity.
The energy company partnered with Melville-based Island Harvest Food Bank and yielded over 10,000 pounds of food and supplies over six food drives taking place in July, August and September. Residents were able to stop by their local Stop & Shop, Stew Leonard’s or King Kullen and drop off donations, most recently until Sept. 24 at Garden City Park’s King Kullen.
“We crushed our goal because helping each other is something Long Islanders do, and it’s something our employees do,” Daniel Eichorn, president and COO of PSEGLI, said Monday. “We’re glad we were able to create the venue to make it happen.”
Summer was the specific season for this commitment to donations since schools are out of session, families are on vacation and giving back is not on the top of everyone’s mind, said Amy Di Leo, who works with PSEGLI’s corporate communications team.
Volunteers could be seen last Friday handing patrons tote bags and alerting them about the food drive station on the Nassau Boulevard side of the King Kullen parking lot. While a lot of the boxes filled up quickly from residents making an extra stop on their grocery trip, many came with a full car after hearing through word of mouth and just wanted to help their neighbors.
“We had one woman drive past and ask ‘What do you need,’” said Di Leo. “She wasn’t even going shopping, but was headed back to her house to get everything she could.”
Town of North Hempstead Clerk Wayne Wink and Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti came by to show support.
Helping out at each food drive are PSEGLI employees who volunteer. Jim Tsivitis, from St James, was glad to see an outpouring of help at each drive he’s been to.
“The generosity of people has been amazing,” he said Friday. “It’s been great to see today’s reaction from the community and see their support.”
The almost 22,000 meals received will go toward the 400,000 people who depend on Island Harvest this year, a decrease from the 600,000 during COVID-19 last year, said Di Leo. Before 2020, Island Harvest supported approximately 300,000 Long Islanders. Di Leo said food insecurity is an issue that affects everyone and anyone regardless of financial status and the more support, the better.
All the food donated is sent to an Island Harvest facility where food drive coordinator Gianna Bottone said it is sorted and distributed to 400 agency partners, including local food pantries, soup kitchens and emergency services. She said individual food boxes will be kept at the Melville facility for individual clients looking for support as well as for the senior distribution program.
“Having so many people in the community see that there is such a high need and want to do something about it is absolutely incredible,” Bottone said Friday.