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Helping The Hungry

America is known as the land of plenty, but for many Americans, not having enough food is a daily battle. According to recent statistics, one in every six households nationwide is food insecure and almost four percent of Hicksville’s population lives below the poverty line. Hicksville United Methodist Church (HUMC) is seeking to help the needy population of Hicksville and beyond with their food pantry, which has put food on the tables of many local community members.

Since opening in October 2007, the pantry has helped dozens of local community members get back on their feet. People from Hicksville and surrounding areas such as Plainview, Westbury and Levittown can come to the pantry on Friday mornings and get proteins, canned vegetables, pastas, cereals and more, for three days. Anywhere from 24 to 38 people visit each week, and with seasonal workers and day laborers having no work during the winter, food pantry volunteer Kathy Nannini expects that number to rise for the season.

The food pantry has a fair share of homeless clients.  Judy Frankson has been in charge of the pantry since it's inception and estimates that the pantry serves about 12 homeless people on a regular basis and staff go out of their way to help them, setting aside easy open cans or Ensure nutritional drinks.  

When clients come in for the first time, they undergo an interview where food pantry staff will determine if they meet eligibility guidelines (which is based on financial status) and how often they are qualified to come to the pantry.

“Some people have nothing so they come every week. Some people have Social Security and just need a little help so they come twice a month,” says Frankson.

Unlike other food pantries in the area, HUMC will provide food to clients regardless of where they live. But if there’s a food pantry closer to their hometown, staff will suggest they go to that one.

The pantry is “client choice,” which means each person gets to choose what to take, instead of being handed a bag of items. Clients get to choose (based on certain guidelines) foods from shelves labeled with different categories, such as proteins, pastas, canned vegetables, snacks and cereals. As an emergency pantry, clients are able to take enough food to last them three days.  

Some items come from food banks such as Long Island Cares and Island Harvest, while other donations come from church members and local community organizations in the area.

At the beginning of the school year, the pantry was able to provide school supplies and throughout the year, they also give away donated clothes, which Frankson says fly off the hangers. The clothes are a huge benefit for people, as she recalls a young woman who found an interview outfit at the pantry.

“She was able to get the job,” Frankson says. “And she still wears the jacket she got from here.” 

Staff at the pantry are also able to refer clients to invaluable services, such as health care centers and social services. And for some clients, coming to the pantry is the only social interaction they have during the week. 

“Some of the clients have no one to talk to them,” says Frankson. “But they come here and we greet them and talk to them, and they leave here smiling.”

While seeing many of the same faces each week allows staff to establish relationships with clients, Nannini says the true victories are when clients start not coming back.

“When we see people not coming back, it means we’ve helped someone, and they don’t need our services anymore,” she says.

Over the past year she's been volunteering, Nannini's found herself learning a lot from the people she serves each week.

“It’s very rewarding to see these people so thankful for what we give them and to know that you’re truly helping someone,” she said. “And it shows how much we take for granted. These people don’t have the convenience of going to the cabinet and choosing what to eat. And you never know, tomorrow it could be us.”

The pantry is currently gearing up for Thanksgiving, preparing to buy chickens, turkeys and side dishes to feed around 35 families. The pantry will provide needy families a package of a chicken or turkey (they hand out an average of 50 already cooked chickens, and 10 frozen turkeys), instant mix packages for side dishes such as mashed potatoes and stuffing, and a pie.

The food pantry is open on Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to noon, and HUMC is always looking for donations and volunteers. To find out more information, call 516-931-2626 or visit www.hicksvilleumc.com

News

Due to what appears to be a colossal error on the part of the Nassau County Assessor’s office, or perhaps an errant interpretation of state law, more than 600 military veterans and Gold Star families in Hicksville will have to wait for their tax break until next year.

Hicksville is one of several local school districts that recently approved resolutions extending the exemption to local veterans, even though budgets and Albany’s tax cap make it a tough choice. On Feb. 26, with a contingency of veterans in the audience, the board voted to provide a school tax exemption for veterans living in the district, starting with the 2014-15 school year.

You’d expect volleyball, football and running the mile in gym class, but what about juggling, plate spinning, or riding a unicycle? For the past 30 years, The National Circus Project has been challenging typical notions of gym class by bringing skilled, trained circus artists into schools for performances and week-long workshops.

Every year, the Westbury based nonprofit goes into approximately 350 public and private schools all over the northeast, including a previous visit to Dutch Lane School in Hicksville. Teams of expert circus artists will come into a physical education class for either a day or week-long workshop. Students get a front row seat to a performance by some of the best in the business, as well as hands on experience with traditional circus skills such as juggling, wire walking or acrobatics. Students in the week-long workshop get to perfect a specific skill and show it off during a show at the end of the week for family members.


Sports

Cantiague Park Senior Men’s Golf League had its first tournament on Thursday April 4. Twenty golfers came out on on a crisp but sunny morning. Charlie Hong was the only man to score under a 40, with a 38 and won for low overall score. Jim O’ Brien  scored a 41, and won low overall net in a tie-breaker with Mike Guerriero.

Competition on the nine-hole course is divided into two divisions. Flight A is for players with a handicap of 13 or lower. Flight B is for players with a handicap of 14 or more. The league is a 100 percent handicap league. Any man 55 years or older is eligible for membership. We have many openings for this year, and you can sign up anytime throughout the the season.

This November, Hicksville resident Marlo Signoracci will head to Florida for Ironman, a demanding, long-distance triathlon that includes biking, running and swimming. Here, she shares her story as she prepares for one of the most physically challenging athletic events out there.

Life’s challenges are not supposed to paralyze you. They are supposed to help you discover who you are.


Calendar

American Legion Meeting

April 21

HS Theater in the Round

April 24-26

Science Fair

April 26



Columns

Yellow Margarine And A Pitch For The Ages
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

Sustainable LI: Getting Good Things Done
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

LI’s ‘Most Prominent Lady In Politics’
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com