Three food pantries on the South Fork, East Hampton, Springs and Amagansett, regularly feed hundreds of families, and during the winter that number can soar close to 1,000.
There are also farmers whose venues to sell their wares diminish in the winter as the crowds that frequent farm stands have left for the season.
To Springs resident Eileen Roaman a link was obvious: organize a way to have farmers sell their produce to the pantries through donations expressly for that purpose. “That way, the money would stay in the community,”
she says, “the families would have fresh nutritious food and the farmers would have customers. It’s tightening the circle.” Roaman made an initial pledge and then sent out an e-mail asking for donations; soon the total was $15,000.
Enter Amanda Merrow and Katie Baldwin of Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett, a nonprofit that has as part of its mission to help feed the community. Under their 501(c)3 status, that money was now 100 percent tax-deductible and 100 percent going directly toward the purchase of food. All of the food is grown by farms in East Hampton and Southampton, including Amber Waves, Balsam Farms, Quail Hill Farm, the Milk Pail and Sunset Beach Farm.
In the first two weeks, the Farm to Food Pantry Program was able to deliver 1,550 pounds of produce. Families pick up boxes of food once per week and now, in addition to staples, they will find apples, butternut squash, eggplant, peppers, potatoes and winter greens.
In the past, says Gabrielle Scarpaci, executive director of the East Hampton food pantry, which relies on donations, farms have donated produce to feed the 44,000 mouths that came through her door last year. Now the farmers are being compensated for their work and the plan is to keep growing. According to Roaman, a $25 donation will provide a family with fruits and vegetables for two weeks; $100 will cover two months and $300 will underwrite a family’s share for the six-month fall and winter season. Baldwin and Merrow have set a fundraising goal of $75,000.
Donations can be made to the Farm to Food Pantry Program, c/o Amber Waves Farm, PO Box 2623, Amagansett, NY 11930.