Food pantry forced to turn people away
The COVID-19 pandemic is standing between a food pantry and its ability to help the needy.
Reaching-Out Community Services has been serving the community during COVID-19 as more families register due to increased unemployment and a greater need for meals. However, due to lack of funds, the Bensonhurst food pantry has been forced to turn people away and cut others from receiving meals.
“Unfortunately, we have to cut out over 2,000 families who have pre-registered during COVID-19, ” founder Tom Neve said in a video posted on the Reaching-Out Facebook page. “We’ve helped them as best as we could but now we have to make the decision on do we wipe out the program or do we continue to help the families who already have been registered.”
As he spoke on Wednesday, a large line waited outside the pantry.
“We still have hundreds and hundreds of more people with food insecurity,” he said. “ Reaching-Out Community Services has been providing for over 10,000 families that are registered in the program. These are our seniors, people with low income disability. They have been depending on this food pantry for years.”
Neve said that he has reached out to individuals for help to continue the program and provide meals to as many registered people as possible.
“We have been reaching out to people that can help the program continue,” he said. “I think it’s falling on deaf ears at the moment.”
However, Neve did thank those who have helped during trying financial times.
“We are so thankful to the foundations that have helped us through the last five months,” he said.
As thousands of more people continue to lose their jobs, the decision to cut anyone from the program was difficult. However, with the pantry at risk of closing during the financial crisis, Neve felt it was necessary.
“We are going to need support for the many months to come and I don’t want to be foolish to actually wind up shutting down this program because I have spent every dime on the future of the program and we had to make a decision,” he said. “We no longer will be taking clients that haven’t been registered with us. We tell them they have to find another place to go. I don’t know where to tell them to go. And hopefully we don’t have to cut off families every week. I’m hoping by God’s grace that we are going to be able to keep doing what we are doing because it’s needed.”
Despite the hardships, Neve commended the Reaching-Out staff for their hard work.
“The staff has done a phenomenal job during the past five months keeping the area safe,” he said. “How much longer we can do it depends on support.”
The pantry will continue servicing its base clients and run its established programs in the near future.
“We have to find a way to continue to help families that do need it,” Neve said. “The need is great but the support is not.”
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