The Mission of Long Island Cares is to bring together all available resources for the benefit of the hungry on Long Island. Our Vision is “A Hunger-Free Long Island.“
Long Island Cares provides emergency food where and when it is needed, sponsors programs that help families achieve self-sufficiency, and educates the general public about the causes and consequences of hunger on Long Island.
Long Island Cares relies on the generosity and strong support of the individuals, corporations, and foundations that make up our community. We are deeply grateful to the many who join with us and support our commitment to strengthen and secure the future of our community by providing a healthier and more meaningful life to those among us in need.
Long Island Cares offers its services without regard to ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age, marital or veteran status, medical condition or handicap, or any other legally protected status.
Long Island Cares is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, community based, regionally responsive, and working in partnership with other charitable agencies to fight hunger in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. The Harry Chapin Food Bank is Long Island’s First Food Bank and, together with Community Outreach Programs such as New Paths to Achievement and Job Training, makes Long Island Cares one of the New York Region’s most comprehensive hunger action organizations.
Long Island Cares was founded in 1980 by the late singer/activist Harry Chapin in response to the immediate needs of hungry Long Islanders. In July 1981, Harry died in a traffic accident while on his way to a free concert at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow.
Planning, organizing, fundraising, staffing, and gathering the resources required for a food bank took over a year to accomplish; thus the food bank of Long Island Cares did not begin operations until February 1982. For twenty years, Long Island Cares was housed on the grounds of Pilgrim State Psychiatric Hospital in Brentwood, NY. The food bank operated out of a vacant dormitory quad cafeteria which had a suitable amount of office and warehouse space and a loading dock.
It was a fortunate situation for a young organization like Long Island Cares as the building and its utility costs were donated by the State of New York. Long Island Cares will be forever grateful for this kindness and generosity.
However, all good things must come to an end; so it was with Long Island Cares and Pilgrim State. In February 2002, the state land on which the cafeteria and its surrounding dormitories stood was included in a sale of several hundred acres to a developer with plans to build a multi-billion dollar residential/office complex. Long Island Cares was gently informed that they needed to vacate the premises.
The timing was right anyway; Long Island Cares was outgrowing its old cafeteria. A building was found in the Hauppauge Industrial Park and the move took place in October 2002. To celebrate the grand opening, Long Island Cares named its new building The Harry Chapin Food Bank.
Of course, the question remained of how to pay for the building! A capital campaign was obviously needed. Fortunately, Long Island Cares had been given nearly a year’s advance eviction notice by New York State and no time was wasted.
In October 2001, a wonderful Harry Chapin Tribute Concert, given by his friends and family at the Huntington IMAC Theater, kicked off the Capital Campaign. And a highly successful campaign it was; Long Island Cares was able to pay off its mortgage by June 2008!
And so today, Long Island Cares has the room, visibility, and fundraising flexibility to grow the operations of The Harry Chapin Food Bank as well as its Community Outreach Programs. We need to do so in order to attain our goals and fulfill our mission.
Long Island Cares’ goals are to provide emergency food where and when it is needed and to sponsor programs that help families achieve self-sufficiency. We are here to promote the food welfare of Long Island, to raise the nutritional standards of our community, to bring into closer relation the resources and food needs of the community, and to encourage food self-reliance for all Long Islanders.
Harry Chapin’s social activism is continued today by his wife and partner Sandy Chapin, who has served for many years as Chairwoman of our Board of Directors. In the years since Harry left us, Long Island Cares has become an organized force of caring, dedicated people who are making a difference in the fight against hunger on Long Island. This is how the spirit of Harry Chapin lives on here at Long Island Cares.