The was able to raise $4,200 on behalf of the hamlet's winter food pantry through vendor participation fees at the chamber's seasonal farmers market, up nearly $1,000 since last year.
On Friday, Laraine Creegan and Paul Monte, the chamber's executive director and board president, presented food pantry organizer Fran Ecker with the $4,200 check at the chamber's Harbor Information Center on Main Street.
Ecker started the food pantry 26 years ago with Inez Fox, a coworker at the Montauk school. She said she had noticed an increase in children coming to school without breakfast or lunch, which brought her to take action. She added that Montauk's poor, comprised largely of Latino immigrant families, often have trouble finding transportation to a weekly food pantry in East Hampton.
The Montauk food pantry was recently incorporated as a not-for-profit entity, allowing the organization that Ecker started as a "small, community thing" to receive state funding and grant monies. Families in need can pick up food items at the on the third Tuesday of every month in the winter only.
In the summer, Ecker said, "there is enough work for everyone," and she would rather not have families rely on the food pantry when they have the income to support themselves.
Ecker said she had not noticed an increase in need over last year at the Montauk pantry, but that she had heard from friends at the East Hampton Food Pantry that the number of families asking for help there is greater than ever.
Monte said the chamber was "always glad to help a community organization." He added that this was the most successful year to date for the Montauk Farmers Market. All of the proceeds from the fees charged to vendors, less advertising, are designated towards the food pantry.