Throughout the pandemic, Masbia operated outdoors and served hundreds of families every day at multiple locations. Masbia of Flatbush ended up being visited by the reporters many, many times. There were days from still-cold, coat-wearing days of April, to the hot days of July. From days where Masbia had lines snaking around the corner five hundred families deep, to days when Masbia transitioned into a digital appointment system by staggering appointments for 24 hours five days a week, straight.
They settled on featuring four families, two of the clients who went to the Masbia food pantry. Finding the families who were willing to talk and whose scenario tell their COVID story best meant interviewing dozens of people on our breadline and waiting for them to book another appointment. Once the appointment was booked they would shadow the family as they left their home to go to Masbia, wait on line, get their raw pantry package, go home, and prepare a meal from the food they'd just received.
Masbia also helped the NY Times by texting all clients to e-mail a photo of meals they prepared using items they picked up from Masbia directly to the reporter and about eight of those photos made it into the story. That is in addition to the four people who were the main focus of the story.
This photo is the one the NY Times chose to have as the main teaser photo when they posted this article online and on social media. It features a dedicated, long-time volunteer of more than a decade named Lois Halber. You can also see a sign with instructions for making an appointment. During the peak of the pandemic, we were trying to fix the train while it was running, so to speak, and needed to come up with solutions to deal with the 500% increase in demand. There was no time to wait for fancy graphics and printed signs. Here, you can see Executive Director, Alexander Rapaport drawing those signs.
NY Times digital reporter Elaine Chen also contributed to this article and you can see standing next to ED Alexander Rapaport outside of Masbia of Queens.
Also in the online article, way at the bottom and accessed after clicking to "read more", is mention of our recent expansion of operating hours, so that we are now open 24 hours. It didn't get much play in this article since this article was reported on from May - July and this only started a few days before the article was published. It did, however, make it onto three TV news stations. Click here to view: NY1, News12 and Fox 5.