By noon, the line spanned nearly three blocks long on foot, with an adjacent car line stretching all the way beyond the neighborhood’s border with Brooklyn.The “supermarket-style” pantry was started just two months ago by a coalition of local community groups, including the Ozone Park Residents Block Association (OZPKRBA). It operates entirely off donations of food and other essential items, as well as the work of volunteers.
According to OZPKRBA president Sam Esposito, the pantry has grown exponentially and beyond anticipation since its inception, now serving more than 1,300 families in Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, Woodhaven, Richmond Hill, Cityline and Howard Beach, a testament he says to how underserved residents have been.
“We are in a very diverse neighborhood, and because of coronavirus we all came together, regardless of race or faith, to do great work,” said Deshi Senior Center owner Misba Abdin, who is allowing the pantry to use the parking lot of his facility, which has been closed since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, free of charge.
Abdin and Esposito are looking to procure financial backing from city officials in order to sustain the pantry, as they suspect food insecurity in the area will persist over the coming months.
“We work long hours, all volunteer, because people are in need,” Abdin noted. “Our community is so united we could conquer the world right now, but right now our biggest concern is transportation and rent. As long as we have enough money to pay the rent, we are happy to continue.”