Saunders & Associates held their 7th annual Thanksgiving Drive to support local food pantries throughout the Hamptons. In the past, the company collected donations of nonperishable food in their 5 offices. Last year, due to Covid, the company instead hosted a GoFundMe campaign online to raise funds. The 2021 Thanksgiving Drive was again held via a GoFundMe page, and it was even more successful, with the company matching individual donations and raising a total of $80,000 to be distributed among 11 local pantries. While the pantries appreciate donations of food, monetary donations enable them to buy what they most need.
Molly Bishop, Executive Director of Heart of the Hamptons in Southampton, notes that they would not be able to keep up with the dramatic increase in the number of families they are serving “without this level of community support. The circumstances and financial strain coronavirus has caused on local families is evident in our numbers. This year, we have successfully distributed over 146,000 meals compared to 171,000 meals this time in 2020 through the heart of the pandemic, compared to just 48,000 in 2019.”
We spoke with Tom White, manager of the Bridgehampton Food Pantry, who reports that while the pantry saw less need in the community during the summer, activity has picked up again in the fall. They have received donations from individuals as well as other local sources. “The Ross Lower School brought a pickup truck full” of food, he said, and they received donations from the library as well.
Local food pantries work together, too. Bridgehampton recently found themselves with extra turkeys they didn’t need (chickens are more in demand for the holidays). When Sag Harbor’s pantry ran out of turkeys, Bridgehampton sent some to them.
Local food pantries in the Hamptons provide an essential service to the community. “Finding time off is a challenge,” Tom says, “We operate with a skeleton crew.” Besides supporting a local food pantry with monetary donations, which are always needed, volunteering some time to help out at a local pantry is another great way to be an active supporter of your community. There are community food pantries throughout the Hamptons – find the one near you and see how you can help.