NationSwell: The Surprising Secret of This New York City Cafe

March 10, 2014
By Lorraine Chow

Why the home-cooked meals served at Masbia fill bellies and warms hearts.


How do we help a person in need if he or she feels shame for stepping foot into a soup kitchen and asking for food?

That’s just the problem that Masbia soup kitchens in Boro Park, Brooklyn and Queens attempts to solve. Which is why they treat their patrons to nutritious, kosher meals served in a comfortable, restaurant-like setting. When you walk into any Masbia, you’re greeted by a server who leads you to your table — just like any other eatery in the Big Apple. You’re then given a hot, healthy meal that’s been prepared by a kitchen staff of mostly volunteers. The meals are completely free. In fact, the kitchens don’t even have cash registers.

You may remember we profiled Masbia back in December (check out this video from NationSwell video editor Jacob Templin) and the network of kitchens have certainly been growing since. As the Good News Network reports, in January alone, the nonprofit has served 5,583 meals and distributed 7,840 bags of groceries. According to their Facebook page, the three Masbia kitchens have already served more than 500,000 meals to hungry New Yorkers, many of them children. This year, the organization anticipates providing more than one million meals.

“There is some scripture about ‘people didn’t die of hunger, they died of shame for asking.’ So taking away that stigma is giving people access to food,” says Masbia Network executive director Alexander Rapaport. “Doing it with dignity means people will come.”

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