The Takeout Project, a community initiative created to stock local food pantries with a different type of donation – gift cards to local restaurants – is back for its third year, this time running for just 12 days in February.
Founded by Northport Village resident Barbara Bolen, the project has raised over $10,000 since its inception. Bolen is hopeful the community can help continue a tradition that started during Covid, born out of a desire to help Northport and East Northport restaurants struggling when the pandemic shut most eateries down. The idea was simple, said Bolen: encourage people to purchase gift cards from their favorite food establishments, and then have the pantries distribute them as a treat to neighbors who are in need of food support.
This year, Bolen is working again with the Ecumenical Lay Council’s food pantry in Northport and the St. Anthony of Padua’s Saint Vincent de Paul food pantry in East Northport.
“Fortunately, those dark days of the pandemic are behind us. But our two local food pantries are still in need of donations as they service a heartbreaking number of people,” she said. “For the past two years, the generosity of this community has resulted in individuals and families being able to enjoy the treat of a hot restaurant meal.”
While the challenges of the pandemic are not as complex as they once were, Bolen believes the initiative is still important. Food pantries traditionally run low on donations after the holidays and many restaurants face an uphill battle in winter, a notoriously “off” season, especially in Northport Village.
Local residents currently facing food insecurities also don’t often have the opportunity to eat or take out; the initiative affords them that luxury while providing some extra support to the community’s restaurants – a win-win, said Bolen.
Bolen is accepting donations large and small to The Takeout Project through February 12, after which she will purchase the gift cards from local eateries. GIft cards will then be distributed by the food pantries. Send your donation to @barbarabolen; those who give can indicate in the notes section which restaurant/s they would like to support.
Editor’s note: The Northport Journal’s Joanne Kountourakis is for the second year assisting Barbara Bolen in efforts for The Takeout Project.