The anchor of CBS New York, Dana Tyler, presents Jenna Deangelis reporting from Brooklyn about rising food costs and families feeling the squeeze while food pantries try to make sure people are feeding. Masbia's ED Alexander Rapaport talks about the recent open warehouse to have a reserve food to help keep up with the demand.
With rising food costs, families are feeling the squeeze, as are food pantries that are trying to make sure people are fed.
A man running a nonprofit in Brooklyn, relying on a city pandemic program, says he's noticed drastic cuts with terrible timing, ahead of Passover. He brought their plea for help to CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis.
At Masbia Soup Kitchen's Borough Park food pantry was a line of people, who needed the help with rising costs
"It's sad but not much we can do," one Borough Park resident said.
It's one of three locations that, during peak pandemic, collectively served 1,500 families a day.
"During the pandemic, we saw a 500% increase in demand," said Alexander Rapaport, executive director of the Masbia Soup Kitchen Network.
Rapaport says the city's Pandemic Food Reserve Emergency Distribution Program, known as P-Fred, has been an enormous help since established in 2020.
"On an average day, we would get three truckloads of fresh produce at each of our three locations," he said.
The temporary program is set through June, but Rapaport says on Feb. 28, trucks stopped showing up, leaving the kosher pantry scrambling ahead of Passover.
"Without this, we are facing an enormous food gap, and it's happening to us right in time where we have historically the greatest need," he said.
He says now, that shipments are trickling in, but 90% less than it was before.
"What you see here, this was a fraction of what we had every day," Rapaport said.
We're told deliveries were temporarily impacted by an unanticipated spike in demand and increased food costs.
The Department of Social Services, which runs the program released the following statement:
"This was a pandemic-related program that was always intended to end. We are working to ensure all programs have continued access to fresh produce, and we are working with all food pantries and soup kitchens so that they can continue to serve their communities next fiscal year through other food programs. Additionally, another $10 million is being dedicated to P-Fred this fiscal year in order to increase deliveries through June and food providers were notified regarding this decision."
Masbia recently opened a warehouse to have a reserve of food to help keep up with the demand.
Helping fill it with food from a state program is Nourish New York. This pandemic effort allows food banks, like City Harvest, to access food from local farmers to supply pantries.
"It's been a huge help, especially as the cost of protein is going up ... It's really important that that effort continues because hunger isn't going anywhere," said Jerome Nathaniel, director of policy and government relations for City Harvest.
While the state program is here to stay, the city one has a shelf life.
"This is the biggest challenge that we've ever faced," Rapaport said.
That's why Rapaport is making a plea for people to pitch in, so he can continue to help feed families.
If you would like to help this food pantry for its upcoming Passover surge, visit masbia.org/sponsor.
The city's Department of Social Services says it's working to connect food pantries to other food programs so they can continue to serve their communities after P-Fred ends in June.
See below photos from the CBS News report:
Read the original article HERE.
To donate food for Passover via the Charoset Drive click here.