As a social work graduate intern at the Baldwin Public Library, Molly Miskiewicz noticed that many residents were struggling to get food during the coronavirus pandemic, and decided to help.
Miskiewicz, of West Hempstead, posted on social media in mid-March that she could come to people’s homes to pick up any food they would like to donate to local food pantries. They wouldn’t have to leave their homes, she explained, and she would wear personal protective equipment when she picked up the donations from people’s front yards.
Within a week, Miskiewicz’s inbox was flooded with messages from Baldwin residents offering to donate, and she has since made “more trips to Bethany House and St. Christopher’s than I could count,” she said, referring to the homeless shelter and church in Baldwin, both of which operate food pantries.
“They want to help the community,” Miskiewicz, 24, explained, “but they’re afraid to leave the house.”
In addition, she collected thousands of dollars for the food banks in Baldwin in just a few weeks. “It’s truly incredible to see the community come together like this,” Miskiewicz said. “The best of humanity is truly shining during this dark time.”
Now, she has expanded her efforts to her own community of West Hempstead and its surrounding neighborhoods. She planned to work with three food pantries in Hempstead and the Mercy First facility in West Hempstead, but before she reached out to them, she said, she wanted to make sure she would get enough support from Franklin Square, Garden City, West Hempstead and Hempstead residents.
In a flier she distributed, Miskiewicz wrote that people in these neighborhoods are “considerably generous,” and noted that “times are difficult for everyone.”
Her brothers, Matthew and Michael, have supported her philanthropic efforts. Matthew, who helped Molly organize the services, said that her efforts made him a proud older brother. “It’s incredible to see so many people reaching out with donation after donation to help people they will likely never know,” said Matthew, 26. “While 2020 has been a rough year, taking part in something that has such a meaningful impact on so many people has made this year a lot less difficult. Molly’s efforts are truly noble, and I’m very excited to see how much further we can take our operation.”
Michael, 23, supported her sister by helping to collect and drop off donations. The family dining room is filled with boxes and bags of donations set to be delivered to different pantries, much to Michael’s surprise.
“The great thing about this is that people don’t have to leave their house to show their generosity,” he said. “The way this has kind of accelerated in a short period of time, I don’t see it slowing down any time soon.” Michael added that he hoped the food pickup service would expand across Long Island.
According to 2018 statistics from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, more than 10 percent of households in New York are food insecure, and in Nassau County the problem is even more pronounced: According to the Long Island Health Collaborative, a consortium of the region’s hospitals and health networks, nearly 24 percent of adults — roughly 1 in 4 — faced food insecurity.
The Long Island Health Collaborative agency defines food-insecure households as those that are “uncertain of having or unable to acquire enough food to meet the needs of all their members.”
Miskiewicz collects nonperishable goods — including cereal, pasta, canned goods, rice and nonperishable milk products. To schedule a pickup, please call or text her at (516) 672-8607 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteer opportunities are also available.