North Fork United Methodist Church move will uproot food pantry

More than 35 families flock each week to a tiny building outside Cutchogue’s North Fork United Methodist Church in order to put food on the table. 

But come July, when the church relocates to Southold, those families will have to leave the hamlet of Cutchogue to get what they need from a food pantry.

As the combined Southold, Cutchogue, Greenport and Orient congregation prepares to migrate to a new building at the southeast corner of Horton’s Lane and Route 48, church volunteers are eager to find a new home for the Lord’s Cupboard Food Pantry.

The roughly 1,000-square-foot pantry, which sits on the east side of the parking lot at the Cutchogue church, will be sold along with the church itself. Douglas Elliman real estate agent Kristy Naddell said she cannot disclose the name of the buyer until the closing is completed in July. Four months ago, the church was listed for sale at $849,000.

Most of the pantry donations, which include meats, dairy and canned goods, come from the Island Harvest food bank in Smithtown, which operates a smaller location in Riverhead, said Susan Duffin, director of the Cutchogue pantry.

The church has limited funding, Ms. Duffin said, so it’s unclear how much money will be available after the move. As a result, the church is looking for an affordable — or donated — space to house the pantry, as well as funding or a grant to help pay any rent.

Longtime volunteer and church member Nancy Marschean said North Fork UMC, which doesn’t have the budget to support the pantry, has considered renting some local properties in Cutchogue, but the prices are “very high.”

Most local rentals with at least 1,000 square feet cost $2,000 to $2,300 per month, Ms. Duffin said.

But finding a location in Cutchogue is necessary, she said. The Main Road pantry is easily accessible via the bus stop in front of the church.

Ms. Duffin said the pantry could be housed within the new church — but that’s a last resort.

“There’s a food pantry at Mattituck Presbyterian, CAST is in Greenport and there’s a couple other pantries in Greenport,” she said. “So, you know, we’re kind of in between the two and we’d like to keep it that way.”

Cutchogue Presbyterian Church is interested in partnering with North Fork UMC on the pantry relocation, Ms. Duffin said, but that church has limited space available.

Volunteer and church member Bob Duffin said the church pays roughly $2,400 a month in electric bills for the pantry, which houses five freezers and several refrigerators.

Ms. Duffin said the pantry caters to all families, seasonal workers, homeless people and anyone in need.

“These are not just seasonal workers,” Ms. Duffin said. “These are locals who are out of business, don’t have jobs or can’t make enough to survive.”

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