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Call for food donations - Greenpoint church needs help in meeting rising demand

The Brooklyn Paper
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The Greenpoint Food Pantry needs your help.

That means you – you who are reading this article. It needs you to donate as little as $5, which can provide three days worth of three meals for a needy person in the neighborhood.

So says Pastor Ann Kansfield of the Greenpoint Reformed Church (136 Milton Street), who started the pantry with her congregation this past October. By a significant margin, it is the biggest of the neighborhood’s three food pantries.

“I think when people read articles like this, they think the pantry gets filled with food that gets magically dropped from the sky,” she said.

“But there’s no magic that happens unless people come together and help out.”

Each Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the church gives out a bag with around eight non-perishable items like canned vegetables, canned meat, cereal, pasta and rice.

Originally, the pantry – along with the church’s dinner night, available for those in more urgent need of an immediate meal – drew around 25 people.

But word about it got out throughout the neighborhood, in large part from newspaper articles like this.

Since then, demand has far outstripped supply.

Two weeks ago, the pantry’s supply of 150 food bags ran out 40 minutes before closing time.

The next week, 200 people showed up, though church organizers and volunteers had cobbled enough money together to cover everyone in the wake of their experience the week before.

Still, the situation remains dire.

“It’s good that people know about the pantry, but we’re having a hard time keeping up with all the people who have been coming in,” said Kansfield.

Attendance at the dinner has gone up to around 75 people, but church personnel say they have not had a problem meeting demand.

Kansfield pointed to the worldwide grain shortage as something that has exacerbated the imbalance. The higher price of food has driven people to the pantry, while the pantry has faced an increasingly harder time providing food because of higher prices from wholesalers.

Another factor in the skyrocketing demand is the church’s inclusive ethos, consistent with the liberal philosophy of a church that has two lesbian pastors.

“We would be excited if the people who come Wednesday also come Sunday, but if they don’t, they’re still welcome,” Kansfield said.

“We are a place where all people are welcome, regardless of their theological or political viewpoints. We’re really working hard to have our doors open to the entire community,” she said.

“But we need people from the community to step up and help us out.”

Cash donations to the church are preferred over food donations, said Kansfield.

“The price we can get from wholesalers is much better than if people were just buying food from grocery stores,” she said.

Checks can be made out to: The Greenpoint Reformed Church; 136 Milton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222.

To indicate that the money should go toward the food pantry and not any of the other programs the church runs, write “Food Pantry” in the “Memo” space.

Cash donations can also be made online at greenpointchurch.org/give.

$5 provides three meals for three days, Kansfield said.

Food donations can be dropped off at the church itself. When the church is closed, there is a drop-off basket outside the church.

Non-perishable and canned items are greatly preferred.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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