Gammy’s Pantry is gone, food distribution continues


The Five Towns Community Center will no longer be referring to its food pantry as “Gammy’s Pantry.” The food pantry will continue to operate without a dedicated name from now on.

The name change comes after Sasha Young, the founder of Gammy’s Pantry and the director of summer camps and afterschool programs at the community center stepped down from her roles in March.

The official end came on Monday as Young received a registered letter on April 27 from the center’s board that Gammy’s Pantry “must close this TODAY leaving thousands without food or basic necessities,” Young wrote in a April 29 Facebook post,

Young started Gammy’s Pantry six years ago inspired by her grandmother Betty Young. She started from serving 100 families to over 1,000, in a span of six years.

“The volunteers know their vital role they play each and every day, 365 days a year for the past six years including during the Covid crisis,” Young said.

Despite rumors that the pantry was closing as a whole, Gwynn Campbell, president of the community center’s board of directors, assures the community that the pantry and building will remain open.

“The food pantry will remain open with help from other resources, and the building is not closing at all,” said Campbell. She declined to discuss any other programs or services at the community center.

Syd Mandelbaum, CEO of Rock and Wrap It Up!, a Cedarhurst-based organization that donates food and seeks to prevent wasteful practices, collaborated with Gammy’s Pantry for the past four years. He often hosts holiday feast events and veterans farmers markets at the community center.

“The pantry is dependent on me, I’m the one who gives them food and I’m continuing to donate the food to feed the hungry of the Five Towns,” Mandelbaum said. ‘We feed over 1,000 people a day, we get 200 to 300 people there and they feed their families.”

Mandelbaum assured his certainty, based on a prior conversation with Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, that the demands for this type of facility would be met.

“Bruce assured myself and wife Diane, that there will always be a pantry at the community center,” adds Mandelbaum. “I continue to trust Bruce’s word.”

Over 75 percent of the food from the veterans farmers market is donated to the community center, along with donations from outside vendors.

Mandelbaum continues to serve the food needs of the Five Towns community and will keep donating and being the main source of help to the food pantry.

The center has had a long history of assisting people across the Five Towns. Nearly 110 years ago, there was a settlement house that was the place where some of America’s newest immigrants and other citizens learned job skills.

It morphed into the Inwood Community Center than the Five Towns Community Center and became a gathering place for aid, games, civic discourse, programs and services.

The community center’s 50-year lease with the county expires in July. Last year, the county sought request for proposals. Two proposals were submitted: the Lawrence school district and the Marion & Aaron Gural JCC. The JCC’s proposal includes planning to partner with the existing center.

Blakeman said last March that he would appoint a committee to review the submitted proposals and make a recommendation about the center’s future.

A decision could be rendered in the near future, according Gural JCC Executive Director Stacey Feldman.

“I haven’t heard anything about the bid yet, but I know it will be coming soon,” she said.