SAYVILLE—Last week, Terry Tuthill, publisher of the Suffolk County News, handed a check over to the Greater Sayville Food Pantry in the amount of $1,200. The money, which was collected during the annual campaign in this newspaper known as the Holiday Greeting Fund, was a gift from our readers to the pantry, a very worthwhile organization.
The decades-old food pantry has continually tended to the needs of the most vulnerable, even in the absence of its founder and executive director, Chestene Coverdale, who passed away last September. The new director, Charlene Lehmann, who has been a volunteer with the food pantry for the past 18 years, said those needs prevail, especially during the extended government shutdown, which is now at least temporarily resolved.
Lehmann said she recently met with Suffolk County Legis. Bill Lindsay on that matter, who promised to get the word out on his office social media that the food pantry is open to them, too. “We want [the furloughed workers] to know that if they have needs, they can come here,” she noted. “We want to help them.” Lehmann added that they have already helped federal workers from the IRS.
Mary Lou Cohalan, a longtime volunteer, said the food pantry regularly assists around 130 people monthly. “That’s a lot,” she remarked. “We’re now seeing a growing Hispanic population.”
Though the pantry’s clients are primarily from Sayville, West Sayville, Oakdale, Bayport, Blue Point and Bohemia, they do get others that travel there from other parts of Suffolk County. “We can’t turn anyone away,” said Lehmann.
Cohalan said around half of the food that stocks the pantry comes from the organization Long Island Cares. “But that’s just bare bones and when they have it,” she added. Suffolk County grants have also helped to fill the shelves. Local businesses have assisted as well, such as restaurants and delis. “And local supermarkets are big supporters,” remarked Lehmann. The rest is provided by the generous donations from school and community groups that run food drives and even donate money. Lehmann said that fiscal donations have made it possible to purchase a much-needed new refrigerator and freezer for the pantry.
The Greater Sayville Food Pantry is located in the Gillette House, 47 Gillette Avenue. Hours of operation are Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. They can be reached by calling 631-244-8375.
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