After moving to a smaller location on Roanoke Avenue, the Long Island Council of Churches food pantry in Riverhead is focusing on offering more food and fewer bulky household items to its clients.
In December, the pantry’s leaders learned their old location on Osborn Avenue would have to close since the building was sold. They reopened in May at 220 Roanoke Avenue and have been going strong since then, despite the adjustment.
“We are getting settled in, but we can’t stop,” said Carolyn Gumbs, office manager for the pantry. “It’s slow, but we’re getting there slowly but surely.”
At a little more than 800 square feet, the new location in suites 2 and 4 of the building is about half the size of their previous space. (Their mailing address is #3 because that mailbox was available.)
“We’re used to taking a lot more household items and medical items, but because of the facility, we really can’t,” Ms. Gumbs said. “It’s too small. But we tell people if they bring a small amount, we can manage a small amount — just not carloads like we used to.”
Despite the move to a smaller space, the pantry still serves close to 135 families, most of whom were clients at the old building. Ms. Gumb said the pantry kept the same phone number, which helped many of its users.
The pantry also expanded its hours; they’re now open from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1:30 to 4 p.m.
“Hopefully, it will bring in those that are going out early so they can stop,” Ms. Gumb said. “If they have an appointment, they have time enough to get here.”
Ms. Gumb and her staff have put out fliers around town over the past few months, and are continuing efforts to spread the word of their new spot to local residents.
“Here, we’re out of the way and out of the loop,” she said. “Here, you don’t have as many walkers going this way.”
In addition to food, the pantry offers financial assistance on a variety of costs, including rent and prescriptions, so long as they have available funding. They are sufficiently staffed now, but Ms. Gumb said they “can always use help” when the holiday season rolls around in a few months.
Her pantry, she said, does important work for the Riverhead community — and people should be more accepting that it does.
“People have a tendency to put a stigma on people coming in to get help for food,” she said. “They shouldn’t. Everyone is in need with high electricity, high fuel bills, high rent. Everyone is in need of help now.”
Photo caption: The Long Island Council of Churches food pantry is focusing more on small food items due to reduced size at its new Roanoke Avenue location. (Credit: Chris Lisinski)