Roslyn Mayor Durkin donates 1,200 weekly meals to Interfaith Nutrition Network

Roslyn Mayor Durkin donates 1,200 weekly meals to Interfaith Nutrition Network
Village of Roslyn Mayor John Durkin has provided the Interfaith Nutrition Network with 1,200 meals a week since the coronavirus pandemic first hit Nassau County in March. (Photo courtesy of John Durkin)

Some know John Durkin as the Village of Roslyn mayor. Others know him for his culinary role owning several Roslyn eateries on Bryant Avenue.  Since the coronavirus pandemic hit Nassau County in early March, Durkin has taken on the role of philanthropist by donating more than 1,200 meals a week for the Interfaith Nutrition Network in Hempstead.

“The people who work there are the true shining light here, not me,” Durkin said in a phone interview. “I’m just grateful for the opportunity to stay busy and donate food to a good cause while I’m working.”

Durkin said representatives from the INN, a nonprofit organization that addresses hunger and homelessness throughout Long Island, reached out in need of donations. Durkin, who said his experience donating to the INN dates back many years, offered to provide the organization’s guests with quality and nutritious meals.

Efforts to reach representatives from the INN for comment were unavailing.

“The 1,200 weekly meals are just a fraction of what they need, but for me, that’s a lot of food,” Durkin said. “I’ve been hearing from the staff that their guests have noticed an uptick in the quality and the response has been very positive.”

Durkin said local food vendors and people from other businesses have provided aid to him and his staff in the form of produce, poultry and peppers.

“I had a huge donation of peppers from someone at Holiday Farms, so I got some pork sausage together with the peppers, and made it a meal itself,” Durkin said.

Aside from the stuffed peppers, Durkin said, some of the other guest cravings include a chicken stew, chili with cornbread, and chicken pot pie. Durkin said he and his crew from Trattoria Diane have also made a variety of sandwiches that help in feeding the INN’s 5,000 guests.

Durkin also touted the importance of making nutritious meals for guests, who may not have received proper nutrients otherwise.

“It’s not just about making the food taste good,” Durkin said. “I want to make sure most every meal I’m providing comes with a starch, protein and vegetable.”

While monetary donations are also appreciated by the INN, Durkin said, cooking donations are “a little more fun.” Durkin said that since he and his crew began cooking meals for the INN in March, it has been a much-needed distraction from the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think I may have found my second calling with these stuffed peppers,” Durkin chuckled. “In all seriousness, cooking these meals is something I like to do not just for helping out tremendous people who are in need of them but to get me out of this funk as well.”

Durkin asked food wholesalers and local businesses to reach out and donate any excess food or supplies to aid in providing meals at the INN.

“If you have an excess of celery, I will make a celery soup,” Durkin said. “Nothing is too small, and every donation is greatly appreciated by me and the people at the INN.”

Durkin said he hopes others will join in providing donations and to continue doing so even after the pandemic passes.

“None of us knows when that will occur,” Durkin said. “But I think it would be a great initiative to retain going forward.”

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