Driving past the Hempstead Long Island Rail Road station on Sundays, you’d expect to see a few cars in the parking lot and maybe a couple of people waiting for a train. As shocking as it may be, your assumption is incorrect.
In fact, Sundays at the train station are anything but quiet due to Community Solidarity’s Food Share where Long Island residents near and far come out and volunteer to help those in need.
"It's incredible that young people, old people, and people of different backgrounds can come together to help build this community," fourth-year volunteer and Huntington Station resident Phillip Gladkov said. "With a large population of Long Island going hungry, we're all here to prevent food waste and fight food insecurity together.”
Around 2 p.m., cars pile into the parking lot to drop off produce, groceries, clothing, and other essentials people and families might want that would then be separated by volunteers and put into sections by product. Tables are lined with boxes of fruits and vegetables, bread, frozen food, and more.
Despite the weather, volunteers arrive in the afternoon ready to work and are excited to see what each Sunday will bring.
"The food share is great because it gives all of us an opportunity to help so many people who really need it," first-time volunteer and Hempstead resident Natalie Idone said. "I definitely want to continue to do this."
Community members arrive around 3:30 p.m., bags in hand and lined up in front of tables, while volunteers prepare themselves to hand out the various goods. With one shout of "let's get it going," the distribution begins. Each person is allowed 10 items per table. Then they move on to the next or return to the line for more.
"I’ve participated in the food share twice now," Hofstra student Brie Fuccillo said. "It feels amazing knowing how much of an effect I have on these people as they deserve to feel supported."
With growing lines, products are constantly being restocked. Teams of volunteers walk around, handing out items and speaking with people waiting in line to distract them from the days cold or warm weather and how heavy their bags are.
"I've been able to talk to so many people from participating in this event," Hempstead resident Jessica Devous explained. "I'm more inspired by this community each time I volunteer here and will continue to put in my time while I can."
If you’re considering volunteering, it is asked that you arrive on Sunday's at 2 p.m. There is no weekly commitment and no paperwork or documentation is required before attending.
All shoppers are encouraged to come at 3:30 p.m.
If you'd like more information about the Hempstead Food Share, click here.