It’s a frigid Friday morning at the William Jackson Mastic-Shirley Food Pantry, and five volunteers have begun unloading a 5,600-pound donation delivery from the Long Island Cares Harry Chapin Food Bank. The bounty includes boxes of frozen blueberries, potatoes, meat, cereal, pasta sauce and pasta, grapefruit and other fruits and vegetables.
The emergency food pantry, which moved to its new location on the west side of William Paca Middle School in Mastic Beach about six months ago from a portable building that was in disrepair on another area of the school’s campus, recently held a ribbon-cutting to celebrate the pantry’s new name, which honors a longtime volunteer and former head of the pantry who died last year.
“The school was gracious enough to put us in that location,” said pantry President Rich Geraci. “They helped us out a lot by putting us in that new location.”
With the move, the pantry has seen an influx of donations and interest. Now it’s hoping to leverage that interest into being available more hours.
Located next to the Family Service League’s William Floyd Family Center, it’s currently open Mondays, 3 p.m.-6 p.m., and Thursdays, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
“We welcome anyone who would like to donate their time at the pantry,” Geraci said. “Right now it’s open two days a week. That’s why we’re looking for people — because we want to open another day to service the needy.”
On average, Geraci said the pantry serves 1,000-1,200 families a month, with half of its donations coming from Long Island Cares. Other big contributors include the Girls Scouts, Boy Scouts, local chamber of commerce, Knights of Columbus and Kiwanis Club. Geraci said he also expects to begin getting donations from Island Harvest soon.
“We’re just hooking up with them now,” he said.
For more information, call (631) 874-1912.