Reverend Karen Ann Campbell of the Christ Episcopal Church of Sag Harbor sadly observed some disturbing facts among many community members, including a great number of veterans and elderly, simply - many are hungry and lonely.
Statistically, over 7.9% of the population in our community have no idea where their next meal will come from, and unhealthy isolation and loneliness are taking their toll on our elderly as well. Further, over 200 people live below the poverty line in Sag Harbor alone. Amazingly enough, "East Hampton has the most people who are 'food insecure' in Suffolk County," the Church has discovered.
A solution being acted on by Christ Episcopal Church is the Community Cafe, which is "A feeding program to reduce food insecurity and loneliness through a free weekly meal of healthy and nutritious food locally sourced in an atmosphere of dignity, love and companionship," serving 40-50 people in one sitting. Reverend Karen revealed, "We are modeling our program after Nourish Babylon which is a program that has been successfully feeding 60 people a week for two years."
How can this undertaking be accomplished? Donations, donations and more donations. The Church is hoping to sell their lawn to the Village of Sag Harbor, which "will enable [us] to build a commercial kitchen."
When asked where the project presently stands, Reverend Karen responded, "There is a great deal of work ahead to make the Community Cafe a reality, including raising $150,000 to complete the transformation of the building, connections to farm stands for donations of produce, acquisition of used appliances, and most importantly, the antiquated kitchen must be remodeled to accommodate the Cafe."
What's been accomplished so far? Reverend Karen enthusiastically replied, "We've raised $7,000 and we are applying for grants. We have over 25 people who have volunteered to help in a variety of ways. We have the promise of a lift to make the building accessible and a commercial refrigerator. We are partnering with chefs. Temple Adas Israel, The Sag Harbor Food Pantry, St. Mark's Episcopal Church garden, Amagansett Food Institute and a volunteer MSW social worker who will be available to counsel those in need and connect them to other services."
Reverend Karen offered up that she would like the Community Cafe to be operable by spring, however, newly identified requirements may take longer to fulfill. She expressed her sincere thanks to all those involved in making this a reality.
Remember that old game you played with your fingers as a child...here's the church, here's the steeple, look inside and there's the people? Perhaps, during this holiday season of giving and warm wishes for all, we should be reminded to look inside ourselves and make a New Year's resolution that no member of our community ever be hungry or lonely.
For more information call the church office at 631-725-0128, or go to www.christchurchshny.org
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.