By Marisa Valentino
The financial fallout from COVID-19 has left many families struggling to afford necessities like food.
Lenore Weitzman of East Hampton decided to help out. So she created the Bagels for The Bridgehampton Child Care and Recreational Center (BHCCRC) Campaign with the help of East End Cares (EEC), a volunteer community collaborative. The campaign donates surplus bagels from Goldberg’s Bagels to the child care center.
Ms. Weitzman said was at Goldberg’s Bagels in March when she had an idea: “Why couldn’t the fresh bagels that are discarded at closing time go instead to help feed local families?” she said in an email.
When the idea was brought up to Goldberg’s owner Marc Goldberg, he was more than happy to donate the extra bagels and minimize waste. But he had no manpower to organize the effort. So Ms. Weitzman stepped up to figure it out.
Ms. Weitzman and friends from the Conservative Synagogue of the Hamptons joined forces with EEC volunteers to put her idea into action. They developed a system where four volunteers are assigned different days to pick up the bagels from Goldberg’s in either the Sag Harbor or East Hampton stores, and drop them off at the child care center. Deliveries are made five times per week.
“We had the Bridgehampton Child Care Center feeding a lot of families. And we had this extra asset from Goldberg’s, and we have volunteers. So it’s just a matter of plugging everything together,” said Ms. Berman, the co-founder of East End Cares. “It was a perfect fit.”
“People are struggling now. This is no joke. People are really scared. Nobody knows what the future is. There’s a lot to worry about,” Ms. Berman said. “The more we can take off their plate, and in this case, put things on their plate, the better.”
The bagel donations are making a massive positive impact at the child care center. “Prior to March, the center’s food pantry was feeding 60 individuals a month. Now it is feeding some 450 individuals per week,” Gloria Cannon, supervisor of the center’s food pantry, said in an email. “The bagels each week from Goldberg’s — what a huge difference it makes. It’s just phenomenal. We get enough fresh bagels to feed everyone — and the volunteers who bring the deliveries are so delightful. We are so very thankful for the generosity of Goldberg’s Bagels and the volunteers who are helping us.”
The campaign not only benefits the child care center, but it also benefits volunteers.
“Volunteers are so happy to do it. It makes you feel so good. It’s a simple thing. To know that people are not hungry because of something simple that you did. It’s really meaningful,” said Ms. Berman.
With the expanded COVID-19 unemployment benefits ending in late July, there’s a good chance the need for help with food will increase, said Ms. Berman. In addition to the Bagels for the child care center, East End Cares is also launching a new PSA campaign encouraging people to wear masks.
Ms. Berman recommends anyone interested in volunteering head over to their Facebook group, Instagram account @eastendcares, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.