WESTBURY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The coronavirus pandemic caused a massive strain on our region’s food banks, which are trying to keep up with demand.

CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reports some predict the need will linger far beyond the current health crisis.

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The number of COVID-19 cases in New York has plummeted from the peak of the pandemic, but the number of people going hungry because of it is still rising.

Food banks are navigating a staggering need for emergency food.

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Paule Pachter, the CEO of Long Island Cares, said the need is not going away anytime soon.

“We are going to see, here on Long Island, conceivably, in the months to come, and maybe longer, a 20 percent increase in food insecurity,” said Pachter.


25 pop-up emergency food distribution centers have fed nearly 50,000 new mouths – people who had not asked for help before the pandemic.

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Layoffs, furloughs and business failures are hitting especially hard on the East End, where seasonal jobs evaporated and food lines grew long.

“We’ve seen a five fold increase in our need,” said Cathy Demeroto of CAST, Community Action-Southold Town. “They rely on the wages that they get during the season, which is really from March through November. So, when this started, many of our clients who don’t have a cushion, were out of work. They’re still out of work.”

“The food supplement to somebody’s life makes it so they don’t have to choose between buying food or keeping the lights on,” said Hilton Crosby from Heart of The Hamptons.

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The pandemic created a more than 70 percent spike in food insecurity.

Long Island food banks stayed open as essential services, even providing food for pets.

Long Island Cares said corporate and private donations have been encouraging.

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The charity raised as much in the last nine weeks as it did in nine months last year.