Free meal boxes for struggling musicians on Long Island

Music has been a part of Dan Conway's life for as long as he can remember. Like any other struggling singer-songwriters, the Bethpage native relies on his passion as a primary source of income.

"Then you have, out of nowhere, this pandemic. Everything locks down and you go, 'What am I supposed to do,'" Conway said.

Live performance venues were among the first to shut down and will likely be the last to reopen. That is why Long Island Cares is teaming up with local theaters and concert venues to get performers, like Conway, up on their feet and back at the microphone.

"Beginning today, any musician, performer, person working at a music venue who is in need of emergency food assistance can go to any one of four locations and pick up one of these emergency food boxes," Long Island Cares CEO Paule Pachter said.

Each Music Box of Meals is filled with between five and seven days' worth of food for those in need. The boxes can be picked up at Mulcahy's Pub and Concert Hall in Wantagh, the Patchogue Theatre for the Performing Arts, the John W. Engeman Theatre in Northport, and Looney Tunes Records in Babylon.

"Patchogue is an area that is so diverse and we have so many musicians and artists that perform all over the bars and restaurants," Patchogue Theatre Director Michele Rizzo said. "If they are unable to care for themselves, we want to make sure we care for them."

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Conway, who is now juggling a full-time job at a car dealership on top of his music career, said the small contribution will make all the difference as he works to provide for his fiancée and newborn daughter.

"Once people are able to go out and feel more comfortable and feel like they're safe, I think that things will get back to normal," he said.

However, even as entertainment venues begin to reopen across Long Island, owners and workers say it'll take at least another six to eight months for people to get back to where they were before March 2020.