Courtesy photo: PSEG-Long Island

PSEG Long Island and Stop & Shop are teaming up again this summer to collect food for Island Harvest Food Bank and will be collecting food donations at the Riverhead Stop & Shop on Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The second annual “Power to Feed Long Island” summer-long food drive started with a collection July 1 in Massapequa and consists of six collections at Stop & Shop supermarkets across the island, including the Aug. 5 event in Riverhead.

This second annual summer food drive aims to collect 30,000 healthy, nutritious meals for Long Island families struggling to put food on their tables, according to a press release from PSEG announcing the food drive.

Food insecurity affects more Long Island families than people may realize. In fact, hundreds of thousands of Long Island families struggle with hunger and food insecurity throughout the year. But the struggle grows more acute during the summer months, when there is a significant reduction in food donations to local food banks, pantries and programs, PSEG said.

Compounding the issue, children are not in school where they can receive free and reduced-cost breakfast and lunch. In addition, the pandemic and increased inflation rate have further strained local food pantries and emergency feeding programs served by Island Harvest, the food bank said.

Over the past two and a half years, the pandemic has put a significant strain on the supplemental food supply chain. In fiscal year 2020-2021, Island Harvest Food Bank distributed more than 18 million pounds of food – the equivalent of 15 million meals – to Long Islanders facing food insecurity — an 83% increase over fiscal year 2018-2019.

“Last year, PSEG Long Island’s ‘Power to Feed Long Island’ created a venue for Long Islanders to help fight food insecurity, and they responded with bags, carts and trunks filled with thousands of pounds of food for their neighbors,” said David Lyons, interim president and chief operating officer at PSEG Long Island.

“Thanks to their generosity, we exceeded our 21,000-meal goal in 2021,” Lyons said. PSEG encourages everyone to continue to be part of the solution, he said, “because there is still hunger in every ZIP code.”

PSEG Long Island kicked off the summer food drive this year with a $1,000 donation. Stop & Shop donated $1,000 in gift cards. The cash donation combined with the gift cards make up the first 4,000 meals collected for this summer’s initiative.

Island Harvest estimates each dollar donated provides roughly two meals.

Community members are encouraged to come to the collection sites and donate non-perishable food items. Collection bins and a contactless, drive-thru, drop-off option will be available at each location.

Courtesy photo: PSEG-Long Island

Island Harvest has a need for specific items, including:

Nonperishable food: Healthy varieties of canned foods, such as low-sodium beans, vegetables, soups, pasta sauces and tomato varieties, tuna and chicken, rice, pasta, nut butters, olive and canola oil, spices and pet food (no glass containers please).

Household essentials: Toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer, laundry detergent and dish soap.

Personal care items: Toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, shampoo, conditioner, feminine care products and shaving products, antibacterial wipes and washcloths.

Baby care items: Diapers, wipes, formula, creams, ointments and baby wash.

Representatives from PSEG Long Island and Island Harvest Food Bank will be available at all locations to provide information on low-income programs and money-saving energy efficiency options.

Additionally, information will be available from PSEG Long Island on electric service payment plans and programs, and ways to save money through energy efficiency options.

For information about Island Harvest and for help with food insecurity issues, call 631-873-4775.

For additional information on the “Power to Feed Long Island” drive, or to make an online monetary donation, visit www.psegliny.com/feedLI <http://www.psegliny.com/feedLI>.

In addition to the collection in Riverhead Friday, upcoming “Power to Feed Long Island” collections will be held at Stop & Shop stores in Carle Place on Aug. 19, East Northport on Sept. 2 and West Babylon on Sept. 16. All collections will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.