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Community Action Southold Town: CAST Keeps Kids Fed

Emergency Feed-A-Kid bags will be made available to residents of Southold Town. (Courtesy Photo)

One component of the innumerable measures underway to stem the chaos of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is how do we keep the youngest among us, who depend on their schools for food, both fed and healthy?

The vision of CAST (Community Action Southold Town) since its founding in 1965, is "To promote self-sufficiency and provide a safety net for Southold Town residents in need by building a thriving community where every member is free from worry about basic necessities and is able to build a better future for themselves and their families." Well, the need for basic sustenance is happening among many school children now who can no longer receive breakfast, lunch and weekend staples now that all schools across the nation have closed.

Emergency Feed-A-Kid bags will be made available to residents of Southold Town (from Laurel to Orient Point) immediately according to CAST Executive Director, Cathy Demeroto.

"We feed hundreds of kids a week, but right now we are all hands on deck. Our six staff members, plus volunteers, have really stepped up to help families right away. We normally feed kids throughout the summer and school breaks so we are accustomed to doing this, however, it appears that more families will need our help due to parents being out of work or being financially strapped and perhaps with the addition of new families that may not have required our services until now," Demeroto revealed.

The food bags consist of items for one week, including items for breakfast, lunch, and snack foods such as fruit cups and health bars. The number of bags distributed to each family is based on how many Pre-K through high school kids are in each family.

Demeroto indicated, "We do have a short intake form to be completed including name, address, phone, email and number of kids, however, families can call us as well. Right now we are delivering through the back door and plan to set up tables with names on the bags of food."

Funds needed to provide sufficient bags of food are raised through private donations, as well as donations of non-perishable food items which can be dropped off at CAST.

Demeroto stressed, "This is a very challenging time for families and it is critical that we ensure that children receive proper nutrition during the school closures."

The mission of CAST resonates more today than perhaps at any other time in its history as "CAST has been serving low-income individuals and families on the North Fork of Long Island. CAST helps struggling community members meet their basic needs in the areas of nutrition, clothing, energy, employment, and education, and providing a critical safety net for Southold Town residents from Laurel to Orient Point and Fisher's Island. CAST is committed to moving vulnerable populations to self-sufficiency through outreach and education by offering many programs and services, including a food pantry, sharing room with clothing and household items, ESL and computer classes, an early childhood literacy program, assistance with benefit applications, advocacy and referrals, and much more."

CAST has suggested that: "The best way to help during this challenging time is to make a monetary donation to enable us to purchase items that are most needed. You can donate online at castsoutholdtown.org or mail a check to CAST at P.O. Box 159, Greenport, NY 11944. If you are interested in volunteering, email info@castsoutholdtown.org and put 'Volunteer' in the subject line."

Located at 316 Front Street in Greenport, the Food Pantry is open Mondays from 9:00 a.m. to 12 p.m., Tuesdays from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

For more information go to castsoutholdtown.org or call 631-477-1717.

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.

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