GREENLAWN, Suffolk County (WABC) -- As we mark what has come to be known as Hunger Action Month, we focus on one of the grim realities of the COVID pandemic.
Many people don't know when their next meal will come, but food banks on Long Island are offering a helping hand and leading the charge to deliver tends of thousands of meals to families.
Island Harvest Food Bank held a collection drive on Friday to recognize "Hunger Action Day" on Long Island.
Volunteers came together at various locations, including one in Greenlawn, where they worked to sort and give out food.
Liscea Cashwell, one of so many workers laid off during the pandemic, uses distribution points like the one outside a Northwell facility in Greenlawn, just to make ends meet.
She and so many others have had to get creative just to feed their families.
Meanwhile, outside a Stop-N-Shop in Huntington Station, Island Harvest Food Bank worked alongside volunteers from PSEG at a 12-hour collection site.
The goal was to collect 21,000 meals for the month during a year like no other.
And the lines haven't gotten any shorter as food prices have gone up, and supply chain problems continue.
During this fiscal year, Island Harvest gave out more than 18 million pounds of food to Long Islanders. Believe it or not, that's 5 million pounds more than the year before.
The food bank predicts that there will be an increased need for supplemental food in Nassau and Suffolk counties for at least the next two years due to the pandemic.
"Food shouldn't be an impossible choice," says Randi Shubin Dresner, president & CEO, Island Harvest Food Bank. "For countless Long Islanders facing food insecurity, their next meal isn't just what to eat for dinner, but rather making the tough choice between buying food and paying for other expenses, like utilities, rent, or healthcare."
Dresner added that even as things begin to return to "normal," many of residents continue to struggle financially from the ongoing pandemic.
Hunger Action Day is part of September's Hunger Action Month. It is a day where the country's efforts are focused on the issue of hunger in local communities, urging individuals to take action.