For single mothers struggling to make ends meet, a Hamptons catering company wants to make their lives easier around the holidays by offering them prepared Christmas dinners to serve their families.
Sheila Minkel and Marco Barrila of the Southampton catering company Insatiable EATS — and new Hampton Bays restaurant — have been donating holiday meals to single mothers for the past few years. They donate through Citizens 4 Humanity, a grass-roots non-profit organization founded by Minkel’s sister, April Minkel, meant to raise social consciousness and funds for charitable events.
Using the Insatiable EATS facilities, they created the New York chapter of Citizens 4 Humanity and started donating food to single women three years ago on Thanksgiving. The cause has now grown to the Christmas season and other events during the year.
"A few years ago we decided we wanted to feed families," said Minkel, the event coordinator, whose passion lies in the realm of single mothers. “My mother was a single mom with six kids,” and it can be a struggle, she explained.
Minkel spoke to a woman who worked at a staffing agency who knew many single mothers. She also met some other single mothers on her own, and the organization fed those families for Thanksgiving.
This year the couple will cook meals and deliver food Christmas Eve through New Year's. “We work really hard," Minkel said. "After Christmas we basically pass out.”
The pair is planning on feeding 22 needy families between Westhampton Beach and Montauk with the donations they acquired so far, but they have a list of about 56 families they want to help.
Minkel has to decide, on a case-by-case basis, which families she will help. She interviews candidates and figures out who has the most need. “I’ve got to feed the people with an empty refrigerator,” she said.
The organization works off of small donations — $3 dollars here, $50 dollars there — from individuals and food from local shops, such as , , and . Minkel said 100 percent of the donations go toward making and delivering the food. Everyone involved, about a dozen people, are volunteers, from chefs to the people delivering meals. “This is a completely grass-roots organization,” she said.
Barrila, the executive chef and Minkel’s fiance, said he is donating his time and effort because he wants to help others in need. “It’s paying back the blessing we have in some way. Not everyone is as blessed as we are and we want to give to those people.”
He said, “On Long Island there are a lot of low-income people. We want people to be able to invite people over because they have a beautiful Christmas dinner.” He is giving people who are struggling financially the opportunity to have a holiday celebration without financial stress and worry, he said.
The organization is hoping for more donations to be able to feed more of 56 families that are on the list of those in need.
Minkel said, “I am hoping one day we can get big enough to help everyone who's in a disaster situation.”
Call Insatiable EATS at 631-377-3353 to donate or suggest a family.