Founded in 1965, as Community Action Southold Town (CAST) as part of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, CAST supports underserved and vulnerable populations to ensure food, shelter, education, employment, and health security. Its mission is to provide a safety net and promote self-sufficiency for North Fork and Shelter Island residents in need. The organization serves a diverse population, with dignity and compassion, including seniors, people living with disabilities, single mothers, veterans, children and the working poor. CAST’s vision is to build a thriving community where every member is free from worry about basic necessities and has the opportunity to build a better future for themselves and their families. CAST meets basic needs, provides wraparound services, and offers a broad spectrum of education, workforce training, and arts and cultural programs for all stages of life. In 2021, CAST relocated to a permanent home in the heart of Southold Town and began doing business as the Center for Advocacy, Support & Transformation (CAST) to better describe the scope and breadth of our work. As of early 2023, CAST serves over 1,100 client households and more than 2,700 unduplicated individuals. The focus is on three priorities: Food Relief & Nutrition; Education & Outreach; and Client Advocacy & Support spanning dozens of programs.
CAST’S RESPONSE TO COVID
In 2019, prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic CAST provided approximately 45,000 meals annually. In March 2020, with the first COVID-19 case in Suffolk County in Southold Town, CAST responded immediately by hosting a community meeting and developing a COVID-19 Response Plan to ensure basic needs were met and vulnerable community members had important health and safety information in English and Spanish. CAST served on the front lines and expanded and adjusted programs to ensure services were provided safely and effectively. We launched a Mobile Pantry & Resource Center to help reach isolated, sick and quarantined people unable to come to CAST. The Mobile Pantry was invaluable as Suffolk County and New York State Contract Tracing used CAST and its Mobile Pantry as a referral source for those sick and/or quarantined during the pandemic.
In 2020, CAST provided 198,120 meals including breakfast, snacks and lunch through our emergency Feed-A-Kid program at two temporary satellite sites set-up as an emergency measure for children who would normally receive free or reduced-price meals at school or Head Start. Due to the safety restrictions, CAST’s Greenport location had to move operations outside under tents to ensure six-feet social distancing. As COVID and related lockdowns lingered on, in 2021, CAST provided 244,410 and, in 2022, that number rose to 361,205 meals through all food relief programs. In addition to food relief, CAST managed a rising need for client assistance with benefit applications, clothing, and emergency assistance for urgent needs impacting health and safety, including rent, heat, electric and healthcare. They continue to offer Education & Outreach programming for local families in need.