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Little Free Pantry In Bridgehampton Seeing Increased Demand During Coronavirus Pandemic

T.J. Clemente

The Little Pantry is open 365 days a year. (Courtesy Photo)

Last Thanksgiving weekend, Michael Daly, President of the Board of Trustees of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork - located at 977 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike in Bridgehampton - opened a Little Free Pantry on the property of the church. It seems Daly was greatly influenced by Penelope Rudder of Greenport, who created the idea of the first little pantry she built in Greenport. Her vision was to have them everywhere. Daly said, "She is just a lovely, giving leader over in Greenport and when she was over here in Sag Harbor as a volunteer for the Sag Harbor Music Festival last year (Michael Daly runs the volunteers), she told me about her idea and said, 'Michael, I think one would be great for Sag Harbor.'" Daly said he knew she was right. At first he had looked around Sag Harbor Village, but found no one to partner with, so he went to his congregation and convinced them of the merits of such an operation on the property. "One of our church members, Mark Potter, is a master craftsman and he built the Little Free Pantry," Michael said. "He did quite a fantastic job!"

He continued, "It has been successful because we seem to be serving quite a number of families who are food insecure out here, even before this Coronavirus situation. We are going through between 30 to 70 percent of our food on a daily basis. It is a wealthy area, but there are a lot of real people living in moderate houses in the area who have seasonal financial strains due to the dip in business in the off-season, in the winter months." He went on to explain, "The Little Pantry is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year - with no questions asked. It is a true act of love and generosity. People even stop by and put things in it or leave their contribution on the front entrance of the church. We have a storage area by the vestibule in the church for the over flow, but lately we have been running out."

He explained at first when the Coronavirus pandemic started, pick ups at the pantry actually slowed down, but now they have picked up dramatically.

Daly was born in Coney Island, Brooklyn, but became acquainted with the East End in 1960 when his grandmother bought a big family style home in Hampton Bays. He moved out here full time in 1992. Daly, who lives in Sag Harbor, is a veteran Douglas Elliman real estate agent.

Visit www.uucsf.org or email Michael Daly directly at president@uucsf.org if you wish to make a cash donation or drop off food yourself at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork (977 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton) at any time of the day or night. Daly says they only take "shelf stable, nutritious food that is not out of date." He stressed please don't bring old, expired items.

Daly stressed that the Little Free Pantry isn't just an operation during this Coronavirus crisis, but an on-going pantry open 12 months out of the year. He also wanted to thank Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the South Fork Reverend Kimberly Quinn Johnson for her total support.

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