Oct. 30, 2020 By Allie Griffin
Queens food pantries are seeing food supplies dwindle at the same time that the number of families in need of food is increasing.
Pantry organizers are calling on elected officials to act on the urgency of the situation as the city heads into its ninth month of the pandemic in which many people are without work and don’t know when their next meal will come.
A coalition of local organizations held a rally in Woodside Wednesday to raise awareness of the impending shortages at food pantries.
The organizations, which included Sunnyside Community Services and Queens Together, said food supplies are depleting as funding for food programs decreases.
Yet simultaneously, lines for food pantries and soup kitchens are only getting longer as more people are out of work due to the pandemic.
“The need is increasing whereas the resources and funding are decreasing,” said Judy Zangwill, Executive Director of Sunnyside Community Services.
The unemployment rate in Queens was at nearly 14 percent last month, according to the State Labor Department. As a result, many families are struggling to make ends meet, the rally organizers said.
Food insecurity was an existing issue for 1.2 million New York City residents before March 2020, but the pandemic has exacerbated the issue.
Many local community-based groups pivoted to food relief efforts to fill the need, while a third of existing food pantries and kitchens saw their visitors double, according to survey by the Food Bank for New York City.
“Food insecurity really came to the fore once the pandemic hit,” Zangwill said. “I would say every population we served expressed this — that they were concerned about their next meal.”
Now — nine months later — food pantries are running low on food supplies.
Queens Together was forced to close its food pantry due in part to running out of food. It also no longer had use of its temporary venue–the Variety Boys and Girls Club in Astoria– since the organization reopened its teen center after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.
“There’s nothing harder than getting a phone call from a parent basically realizing the food’s gone, we’re shut down for now,” said Jonathan Forgash, a former chef and co-founder of Queens Together.
“Hearing them realize that we have nothing for them and they don’t know where to turn, hearing another dad talk about that with his kids is really overwhelming and upsetting just as another human being — let alone as a father and a chef.”
Queens Together has since pivoted to connecting restaurants and others with extra food to other pantries and soup kitchens.
Forgash and fellow organizers are calling on elected officials to provide more food, more funding and more resources for Queens residents.
“What I don’t understand is where are the leaders?” Forgash said. “The system is overwhelmed. The smaller guys are shutting down for lack of support. Why isn’t there a national emergency?”
Following the rally, the organizations handed out food at the NYCHA Woodside Houses where residents waited in a long line despite the rainy weather.
Can you please publish a list of operational food pantries with links, so that concerned citizens like myself can give?
Thanks, I set up a monthly payment to City Harvest. I’ll ask my wife to do the same for Food Bank NYC.
Why dont the professional NY sports teams donate food or funds to these organizations? They could even have some players hand out the food. I mean when the BLM protests were going on the players were kneeling and not playing games , so why cannot they help local citizens who are starving. I am over 50 years old so hear goes,” It is Ronald Reagan’s fault” I remember hearing that back in the 1980’s !!
“What I don’t understand is where are the leaders?” Great question! You voted them in!!! Do some research and stop blindly voting for candidates who don’t care about you. Is JVB hungry? Costa looks well fed. Gianaris eats well. AOC is the darling of the media and pampered like a celebrity. Ramos, who professes to advocate for the underprivileged is the invisible woman. Meanwhile the people they represent are essentially starving and will be facing evictions in January. Disgraceful
Well Pat, there is no such thing as a starving politician because politics as practiced in this nation is all about $$ and power. Politicians could care less about your well-being. Ideally in a true democracy we should have like 10 parties and may the best and brightest candidates win, reality is we only got 2 parties that spoon feed us limited choices and you need deep pockets to run for office.