Food Pantries Need Holiday 'Cheer'
Food pantries throughout Queens are feeling a pinch this holiday season, as more and more families and seniors turn to the pantries and soup kitchens to help feed hungry mouths.
According to the results of a 2007 survey conducted by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, Queens is the hardest hit of all the boroughs, with the most mouths to feed and the least soup to fill its kettles.
The report states that the other boroughs are facing a 20 percent increase in demand for food pantry services, while Queens is facing an almost 85 per cent increase. More than 70 percent of Queens food pantries faced budget cuts in 2007 forcing the pantries to turn away hungry people.
At a recent press conference at the Center of Hope International Food Pantry in Long Island City, coalition executive director Joel Berg said the survey results indicate an economic downturn. "When economies get cold, low-income people get pneumonia," said Berg.
The coalition made several recommendations in its report, including a call for increased federal funding for charity groups and the food stamp program along with new focus on increased wages, education, housing and healthcare services for those in need.
Food pantry operators said the long-term plans would provide a much-needed shot in the arm for food charity organizations.
"What we need right now is for people to reach into their hearts and pockets to help feed the hungry over this holiday season," senior pastor at Center of Hope the Reverend Mitchell Taylor said.
For information on Center of Hope programs or to make a donation to the Long Island City food pantry, call 718-784- 4673 or go to: www.cohi.us.
For information or to make a donation to the city's other 54 food pantries, call 311.
- Liz Goff