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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

When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. That’s just what a Hicksville baker is doing, except in her case it isn’t lemons, but a gluten-free diet. Her lemonade stand of choice is her brand new gluten-free eatery, “Jac’s Bakeshop and Bistro,” which held its grand opening on April 12.  

“I’m a baker who can’t even eat wheat or eggs,” said owner Jaclyn Messina, chuckling at the irony.

There’s a lot you can do in 99 minutes. You could cook dinner, play a non-stop soccer game, watch a romantic comedy or hang out with Odysseus, Achilles and Hercules. If you chose the last option, Hicksville High School’s upcoming theatre production of The Iliad, The Odyssey, and All of Greek Mythology in 99 Minutes or Less  is the place for you.

The mouthful of a title says it all. The cast will take on over 80 characters as they speed through all of Greek mythology, including popular tales such as The Iliad and The Odyssey, in a little over an hour and a half.


Sports

Vito Sciascia was recently named Hicksville Soccer Club’s Volunteer of the Year at the 2014 Long Island Junior Soccer League 2014 Kick-off Convention.

Sciascia started coaching travel soccer in 1998 for a boys team, the Flash, who later changed their names to the Muddogs. He could always be found at various sporting fields trying to recruit new soccer players. He would make each of these boys feel important and there was always room for another player. He tried to never turn a child away and when other coaches were having trouble with a boy he would take them on his team, no one was ever too much for him. Sciascia found the good in all those boys and they in return respected him. He took them to many tournaments and solicited enough sponsorship so that it was never a financial burden on their families.

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.


Calendar

The Acchords Concert

April 26

Senior Citizen Luncheon

May 1

Curtains

May 1-3



Columns

1959: The Year The Music Stopped Playing
Written by Michael A. Miller, mmillercolumn@gmail.com

The Eccentric Heiress Of ‘Empty Mansions’
Written by Mike Barry, MFBarry@optonline.net

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