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Long Island Teens Organize Food Pantry To Feed East End Families Struggling During Pandemic

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - The East End of Long Island is home to beautiful beaches and fancy summer hideaways, but it is also front and center to food insecurity.

Many who've lost their jobs are unable to provide meals for their families.

That's why, as CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reported, two volunteers stepped in to help.

The two students from Westhampton Beach High are spending their summer days creating a free food cabinet for their community.

Families can stop by, 'round the clock, to stock up for a meal or two.

Rising juniors Fainne Sheehan and Alie Fitt said it's difficult seeing so many people out of work and losing stability in their lives.

RELATED STORY: Long Island Food Banks Trying To Keep Up With Rising Food Insecurity

"It bridges the gap between traditional food pantries, which are only open a few days a week," said Sheehan.

The Kiwanis Club of Greater Westhampton sponsored the girls' project, "Little Free Pantry."

"One of the key things they needed us for was insurance," said James Farrell.

Volunteers quickly helped the girls construct and install the little pantry behind the village firehouse.

"It's mostly acrylic pain, and there's also a little bit of Sharpie on it," said Sophie Cline, who gave the pantry an artistic flair.

The teens said tears were shed talking with their families about the current food insecurity crisis.


"We're just so very proud of the two girls and what they've done," said John Sheehan, Fainne's father.

"People think because you're out in the Hamptons that nobody is struggling," said Sharon Sheehan, Fainne's mother.

Island Harvest and Long Island Cares food banks said the need for food pantries on the East End quadrupled after the coronavirus outbreak.

Lines are growing at traditional food giveaways.

On a recent afternoon, 4,000 meals were handed out.

"I'm just happy people can walk up and take what they need," said Matthew Fitt, Alie's father.

"There should be no shame at all," said Rosemarie Fitt, Alie's mother.

"There doesn't have to be any embarrassment. Anybody can come up anytime and just take whatever they need," said Fitt. "It's really good that people can give back, as well."

The girls said they hope their grassroots movement spreads throughout Long Island.

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