This Thanksgiving, like every year if we’re lucky, we’ll sit with loved ones and feast, giving thanks for the bounty of our tables, and remembering all we have to be thankful for. It’s also important that we consider those who are not as blessed.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has reported 33.8 million people, including children, lived in food-insecure households last year — defined as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life — with nearly 11 million households in a condition of “very low food security.” That translates to one or more people sharing a home who have been hungry “over the course of a year.”
The grim statistics don’t spare our region. Long Island Cares, a nonprofit food provider, estimates that 283,700 of our neighbors on Long Island receive emergency food each year.
Long Island Cares can be reached at 631-582-3663 or [email protected].
Closer to home is the poverty on Shelter Island, which many of us don’t see. But School Nurse Mary Kanarvogel does, every day. (Superintendent of Schools Brian Doelger, Ed.D., has said that in certain school years, 30% of the students receive free or reduced-cost meals at school.)
Ms. Kanarvogel told the Reporter that, “In the dead of winter, it gets rough. I do a lot of field work with the Lions Club to distribute IGA food cards, to help families with heat and coats, or help kids who don’t have money for a school trip.”
The Lions have done extraordinary work helping neighbors in need, as has the Food Pantry at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, managed by selfless volunteers, who deserve our thanks. To donate food, personal care items or money to the Pantry, email: [email protected].
And the Town’s Senior Services and Nutrition Program is on the job to help Islanders with trying times, along with the three main religious congregations on the Island.
Being without proper daily nutrition is not just about being hungry. A recent state-wide survey conducted by the New York Health Foundation revealed some sobering statistics, including that those families suffering from food insecurity are twice as likely to be in ill health, delaying or avoiding medical and dental care in order to buy food.
For everyone who is fortunate to be with loved ones at our November feast this year, we’ll count blessings and understand that an important element of our citizenship is remembering those who are not quite as secure as we are.
Happy Thanksgiving, from all of us at the Reporter.