In January, according to the latest government reports, 20,000 people lost their jobs --- every day of the month. Nearly 600,000 in all. At the same time, 700 homes were lost to foreclosure, every day. More and more "middle class" families are forced to rely on food pantries and soup kitchens than any time since the Great Depression.

At Long Island's largest soup kitchen in Hempstead, run by the Interfaith Nutrition Network (INN), we're seeing record numbers every day. Last year, we served an average of 300-400 hungry people a day. Now we're serving 400-500 per day, and several times we've gone over 500. (Our biggest day so far was 575.)

Besides the lunches that the INN provides Monday through Friday, we also give out bags of groceries on Friday for families that have cooking facilities and need food for the weekend. Each bag contains a box of dry pasta (or bag of rice), two cans of vegetables, two cans of soup, one can of tuna, one can of fruit, one box of cereal or crackers or cookies.

Unfortunately, the increasing numbers of families needing groceries exceeds our supply. Now, we can only give bags of groceries every other week. We depend on food donations, and in these tough economic times, the donations can't keep up with the demand. People who once donated food are now asking for food to feed their families.

You can help. You can make a difference in the lives of our less fortunate neighbors. Here's three ways to help: donate non-perishable food, especially canned soup, vegetables, and fruit; write a check payable to the Interfaith Nutrition Network, so the INN can purchase more food for its lunch programs (the INN maintains 19 soup kitchens in Nassau and Suffolk and serves more than 300,000 meals a year); volunteer at a soup kitchen.

Donations may be mailed to: Dave Golbert, 7 Lee Court West, Great Neck, NY 11024. To donate food, or clothing, or to find out about volunteering, please call 917-418-2451 or email: davegolbert@yahoo.com

"Let no one go hungry, while there is food on our table."

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