Hunger is real. While East Hampton’s opulence and at times excess are what makes headlines, it has the most poverty in Suffolk County. Hundreds of attendees came to the Springs Community Church on Saturday to aid those suffering from chronic hunger and to sample chowder from some of the East End’s best chefs and restaurants. All proceeds raised by the event went directly to the Springs Food Pantry and Share the Harvest Farm.
On maybe the last warm day of 2022, the Springs Pantry’s Chowdah Chowdown was a tremendous success. Picnic tables were filled with smiling faces all day, enjoying live music and delicious seafood. Nobody seemed bothered that the weather wasn’t at all damp, unpleasant, or otherwise “clammy.” (Sorry for that, there are no more shellfish-related puns in this article)
The environment was picture-perfect for a charitable community event, filled with laughter and the wafting smell of warm chowder. Arriving, there was live music and a friendly volunteer took your order from your car. As an added service touch, a beanie baby was placed on the windshield of your car after placing an order. Quick and friendly, this was the best drive-thru experience I can remember!!
It was nice to have the option to take the food home; however, many decided to enjoy their chowder and Springs Brewery beer at the Church. As a bonus, an early pickup was available for those who purchased tickets in advance. Still, for an event as popular as the Chowdown, there was a consistent line of cars all day. Lines were the longest in the morning, showing the level of anticipation for the event.
More than just eager eaters, support for the event from the business community was powerful with over 20 restaurants and organizations submitting chowder.
The $40 tickets were an absolute steal, including two servings of chowder (16 oz. each) and a pint of delicious beer offered by Springs Brewery. I knew that I would want to try more than just two types, so I got two tickets. My choices are below, but since it’s for charity I won’t say which was the best!
- EH Sportsmen’s Alliance-Ilissa Meyer, Old School New England Clam Chowder
- K Pasa, Mexican Chowder
- Springs Tavern & Grill, New England Clam Chowder
- Estia’s Little Kitchen, Manhattan Chowder
This year especially, as an already seasonal economy is rollicked by runaway inflation, many families have to make painful ultimatums to pay for electricity and heat over healthy and nourishing meals. Essential staples have risen at an alarming rate. Hunger has an overwhelmingly negative impact on children. Prolonged hunger and food scarcity can be traumatic experiences for children with limited access to healthy food. Students who do not eat lunch considerably underperform those that do.
I am humbled by the power and passion visible in the overwhelming community support for events like the Chowdah Chowdown. There is humility in hunger, in as much as we are all able to empathize, if not at least superficially, with needing food. All humans know what hunger is but there are many in our community that suffer from prolonged hunger. Smiling over her chowder (it’s always -er for me), one attendee noted, “We are a community of farmers and fishers, providing food is where we really shine. This is East Hampton at its best – sharing together in an abundance of kindness and clams.”
Another attendee added, “While access to consistent meals and essential nutrients is surely a privilege, those who reap the benefits of an abundance are bound by a duty of care to share as they are able. We are alarmed and saddened—above everything called to action—to know that our neighbors, friends, and community members are without food.”
About Springs Food Pantry
Founded in 1992 by members of the Springs Presbyterian Church, Springs Food Pantry was established to help local fishing and farming families make ends meet during the difficult winter months. For over 30 years the Springs Food Pantry has acted on behalf of the community in accordance with its mission statement. They provide supplemental food assistance as a short-term, stop-gap measure for families in the hamlet of Springs in East Hampton, New York.
The pantry invites you to get involved by donating money and/or volunteering time. “Our food pantry team extends far beyond the volunteers who come to Springs Community Presbyterian Church every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to sort, pack, and distribute food. Many people and institutions in the community share our goal to alleviate hunger and improve nutrition, family by family, week by week”.