By Jeremy Walsh
A Sunnyside soup kitchen got a big boost from a big box retailer this week as Target Stores donated $5,000 for food — a sum that would cover 25,000 meals, the kitchen’s organizers said.
The leaders of the Iglesia Biblica Restauracion church and soup kitchen at 41-43 44th St. joined officials from Target, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and the Food Bank for New York City Tuesday to present the check.
“We prayed for this and God answered our prayers,” said Vrgitta Chang, pastor of the church.
Chang said the kitchen, which also acts as a food pantry, serves between 120 and 150 people every Saturday — up 50 percent over the past year.
“The situation in the city’s not that good,” she said. “Especially the Spanish people, they struggle a lot.”
But Chang also said the clients include people of all backgrounds coming from as far away as Jamaica and Manhattan.
A survey by the nonprofit Coalition Against Hunger found that 60.4 percent of the Queens pantries that responded this year did not have enough food to meet the growing demand, down from 76.8 percent in 2008, but still problematic. Most shelters in the borough reported that their funding levels had either remained the same or decreased since last year.
Amy Oberhelman, an intergovernmental affairs representative for Target, said the store chain has upped its food pantry donations this year. They reached out to Crowley this summer — at a most opportune time.
Crowley had volunteered at the Iglesia Biblica soup kitchen a couple weeks earlier and said he had noticed the facility needed a new sink.
“I knew there was a real need here,” he said, but noted the need had grown at pantries throughout the city. “If I had a dozen or more [Target donations], I can think of other places that could use help.”
Iglesia Biblica receives much of its food from the Food Bank of New York, whose officials also praised the retailer’s donation.
“When two entities come together, corporations and government, great things happen,” said Carlos Rodriguez, vice president of agency relations for the food bank.
Reach reporter Jeremy Walsh by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.