Long Island charity feeds veterans in need

Helping Long Island’s heroes is a mission Rena Sylvester keeps close to her heart. She founded Cooking for Long Island Veterans.

"I cannot tell you the pride I have," she said. "We do this 52 weeks out of the year. I do it because I want to. Because there’s a need."

Sylvester, a retired teacher who comes from a military family has been delivering healthy meals and groceries to the doors of thousands of homebound veterans.

She hopes to one day be able to afford a commercial space but for now, her garage is retrofitted like a supermarket with refrigerators and storage space. Inside her kitchen is where everything gets boxed and ready to go.

"They get three breakfasts at least, 3 lunches, dinners," she said. "In addition, they usually get a pie, they usually get a cake, they usually get juice, milk."

Veteran Lou Andrade received meals made with love earlier this year as he adjusted to life after his wife passed away.

"Here I am a veteran, nobody else at home. I am getting meals that are not costful," Andrade said.

Now the 89-year-old is paying it forward by volunteering his time.

"I’m fortunate," he said. "I can stand, move, but those who are home ridden and don’t have no one and need this service. It’s excellent."

The nonprofit relies solely on donations. Each box is worth well over $100 but to the veterans in need, they’re priceless. 

Jennifer Page is one of nearly two dozen active volunteers who packs and delivers meals weekly.

"We owe so much to our veterans," she said. "It’s my way of saying thank you.

It’s about volunteers making a small difference for veterans who put their lives on the line to protect our freedom

"It’s a small thing to do to honor those who served," Sylvester said.