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East End Food Institute And Honest Man Restaurants Partner To Cook Meals For Local Food Pantries

Nicole Barylski

Meals are being made at EEFI's commercial kitchen, located on Stony Brook University's Southampton campus. (Courtesy Photo)

Honest Man Restaurants, which includes Hamptons favorites Nick & Toni's, Rowdy Hall, Townline BBQ, Coche Comedor, La Fondita and Honest Catering, has joined forces with East End Food Institute (EEFI) to help ensure food insecure East Enders receive much needed meals.

"We are excited to be partnering with East End Food Institute," Toni Ross of Honest Man Restaurants expressed. "It's a trifecta of wins: we will be re-employing restaurant workers, supporting local farmers and purveyors and addressing food insecurity at a time of great need."

Each week East End Food Institute's kitchen team will welcome Honest Man Restaurant employees at EEFI's commercial kitchen, located on Stony Brook University's Southampton campus, where they will whip up 400 family meals (1,600 servings) and then deliver them to the Springs Food Pantry in East Hampton and Heart of the Hamptons (HOH), a Southampton-based non-profit organization offering a Food Pantry, Clothing Room, and General Assistance programs.

"This partnership showcases what I am most proud of at East End Food Institute," Kate Fullam, Executive Director of East End Food Institute, expressed. "Our team and supporters are creative and collaborative, with the ability and willingness to be nimble in support of community service in the context of our mission to support local food."

"This past Wednesday [April 22] was the first day of this new venture, and we at the Springs Food Pantry felt very lucky to have been selected for this project," Pamela Bicket, Springs Food Pantry Board Member, shared. "Dermot, a handy barkeep from Rowdy Hall, arrived at 2:45 and put the Honest Man truck on the grass, near the exit. As our families left, Dermot handed the family a wrapped and labeled half sheet containing a precooked and frozen meal for four. Our larger families of five or more received two half sheets."

Both local food pantries have seen an unprecedented surge of those seeking the pantries' services. "As we are trying to follow the guidelines set forth by our local food banks, the definition and goal of providing supplemental food is to ensure that each family member receives enough food for three days' worth of meals — and it never hurts to throw in some staples like cooking oil or flour," Bicket noted. "This is a challenge we especially need to meet at this time, when so many local families have lost what was already a marginal livelihood. The partnership and the mission of EEFI and The Honest Man Group is brilliant, and I hope its sponsors will continue it."

Dermot in action. When he ran out of half sheets, he stayed on to help in the kitchen. (Photo: John Madere)

In March alone, the Springs Food Pantry experienced a 79 percent increase in the number of community members requiring their assistance over last year. In the first two weeks of April, that number unfortunately grew to a 100 percent increase over last year. "The Springs Food Pantry recipient numbers have soared and since the beginning of March, we've signed up an additional 140 families. Last year, this time, we were feeding approximately 64 families, totaling 219 individuals," Holly Reichart-Wheaton, Springs Food Pantry Board Member, relayed. "Last Wednesday, 189 families totaling 661 people were given bags of fresh produce, pantry staples (rice, pasta, cereal, canned tomatoes, mac and cheese, bread, etc.), fresh fruit, milk, yogurt, eggs and ground turkey."

Reichart-Wheaton continued, "Previously we provided three meals - a breakfast, lunch and dinner - to each family member...now we give them nine plus meals. We now use three national wholesalers, two local grocers and several smaller (generally non-profit) organizations to obtain enough food product for our weekly distribution. In additional to the three freezers in our Pantry, we've purchased a new reach in freezer and refrigerator and have another freezer on loan. The Springs Church which houses our operation has allowed us to store product in their sanctuary since Sunday services are postponed for now."

On March 25, Heart of the Hamptons distributed to 69 families (one family every 2.3 minutes). The following week, on April 1, HOH distributed to 120 plus families, approximately 12,000 pounds of food.

2020 marks the 28th anniversary of the Springs Food Pantry whose mission is "to alleviate hunger and offer nutrition education so that less fortunate families can make healthy and practical choices for themselves." Prior to the pandemic, typically the Springs Food Pantry had fed approximately 10,000 people per year.

EEFI's mission is "to support, promote, and advocate for the farmers, vintners, fishermen, and other food producers and providers on the East End of Long Island." "Additionally we hope this partnership will shed light on the important work EEFI does throughout the year in providing affordable, healthful choices all collected and packaged here in the East End," Ross noted.

"I hope others will support this most recent effort by making a donation at www.eastendfood.org. Every dollar counts!" Fullam said.

"It goes without saying that the families were surprised and so delighted to receive this extra treat," Bicket added.

For more information about the Springs Food Pantry, visit www.springsfoodpantry.com. For more information about Heart of the Hamptons, visit heartofthehamptons.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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