By Pamela Rider
The Jamaica area has an abundance of food pantries.
Deliverance Temple Food, Morris Brown AME Church-Helping Hand FoodPantries, Brooks Memorial United Methodist, Bethel Mission Church, Inc-Food, Bethel Gospel Tabernacle Church, Rush Temple AME Zion Church, are some of the sites that provide food weekly to the community.
Many local food pantries feed over 100,000 people in their community on a monthly basis.
Bethel Tabernacle runs their food pantry in the style of “grocery shopping.”
“I think that it’s important to make pantry service more of a grocery shopping experience,” Coordinator Jim Parsons shared with the Leader-Observer. “It adds warmth and flavor.”
“I am so thankful for these pantries,” said 87 year old Martha Wilson. She added, “I don’t know what I would do without them. I only receive social security, and we all know how that is.”
Many communities have a local food pantry. Most of these community food pantries are sponsored by local area churches or community coalitions. A food pantry is a distribution center where hungry families can receive food.
For many years, food pantries and soup kitchens have been a vital part of sustenance for many individuals that work for minimum wages, and require supplementary accommodations by their federal, city, and state governments.
These pantries are supplied with food from Food Banks, Grocery Store Overstock, Thrift Store Profits to Purchase Food, Community food collection/ donations, and Free from our Garden participants. A community food pantry’s mission is to directly serve local residents who suffer from hunger and food insecurities within a specific area.
Food banks receive food from federal programs. The USDA purchases food from farmers and delivers it to food banks for distribution in their communities. Presently, food pantries serve much more than soup and bread. Specifically, food pantries provide families with canned soup,
canned fruit, canned and fresh vegetables, canned stew, canned fish, canned beans, whole grain pasta, brown rice and dairy.
“City Harvest,” is the world’s first and largest food rescue organization established in 1980 that helped start the food rescue movement when a group of New Yorkers saw that New York City had an abundance of excess food, even while a number of residents struggled to feed themselves and their families. It is a Non-Profit Organization located at 150 52nd Street Brooklyn.
New York State recipients of the “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program” (SNAP), have received a 15% boost in SNAP benefits since January 2021 due to the COVID crisis by “The Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance” (OTDA). The increased benefits were intended to stop once the government declared an end to the Covid public health emergency.
Although the public health emergency has been extended until April, Congress passed the “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023” in December 2022 that ended the supplemental “Emergency Assistance” benefits. February 2023 was the last month that supplemental benefits were issued to eligible recipients; nonetheless, food prices continue to rise due to deficits of natural reproduction.
Wilma Silks, a health care worker said, “You’d be surprised with the quality of the food that is given. Some of it is good name brand items, and many times the vegetables come from farms that donate to pantries. People used to think that pantries were for the poor and underprivileged, but now-a-days, many of us are considered underprivileged due to inflation.”
CBS News reported in Jan. 2023 that the cost of eggs is soaring as America’s eating habits change. A deadly disease “The Avian-flu,” wipes out millions of birds which has resulted with an inflation for the price of eggs.
On January 23, 2023, “The Economics Daily- Bureau of Labor Statistics” reported that consumer prices for all items rose 6.5 percent from December 2021 to December 2022. Food prices have increased 10.4 percent reflecting an 11.8 percent increase in prices for food at home, and an 8.3 percent increase in prices for food away from home.
Lawrence Walker, a 67 year old retired MTA worker said, “Even though I get money from my retirement and social security, I’m grateful that I can get some type of relief on my pocket by visiting my local food pantries!”
The history of food banks, pantries and soup kitchens in America can be traced back to the year 1929 with the effects of growing depression. When food pantries and soup kitchens first appeared, they were run by churches or private charities that served mostly soup and bread.
Local Food Pantries are used as a subsidy which accommodates many working individuals on a tight budget to put needed food on their table for themselves and their families.
For information about your community food pantry, go to https://www.foodpantries.org.