Volunteers from the Bread and More Inn soup kitchen say they’ve never turned away a hungry neighbor and they don’t want to start now.
The organization, which operates three nights a week at First Congregational Church in Riverhead, said it’s concerned an increase in food costs means it might not raise enough money to feed the hungry come winter.
“Once it gets cold and the frost is here, there are a lot of workers that come in,” said Judy Barth, one of the kitchen’s three co-presidents. “Volunteers often have to stop people at the door and act as a hostess because the church can only seat so many at a time.”
But the cost of providing those meals has increased by about 30 percent in the past year, Ms. Barth explained.
“We used to need about $38,000 a year to operate,” she said. “Now, we will need about $46,000 to $50,000 per year.”
Fellow co-president Bennett Brokaw said the soup kitchen serves about 15,000 meals per year and feeds about 150 people per night during the winter.
Deedee Newcomb, another co-president, said the organization has experienced cuts in federal and state grant funding, which used to provide it with between $6,000 and $8,000 per year.
For the past two years, the only grant funding Bread and More Inn received was Riverhead’s Community Block Grant, at a total of $5,000 each year, Ms. Newcomb said.
While Mr. Brokaw said they have come up with “various tricks for tightening [their] belts” over the years — such as seeking donations of day-old baked goods from area bakeries or excess produce from farms and supermarkets — the organization is still in need.
“We’re cutting back because we have to,” Ms. Barth said. “We are eliminating certain drinks, and unfortunately, we can no longer make sure [people] have seconds.”
In an effort to raise additional funding, the organization is hosting a community fundraiser at Hallockville Museum Farm’s Naugles Barn from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 3.
Tickets cost $30 and include light fare, a complimentary glass of wine and dessert. The night will include a silent auction and raffles, pony rides and an opportunity to take family portraits.
To purchase tickets or for more information, call Judy Barth at 298-1623.