By Bill Parry
When the leaders of two Long Island City civic associations heard how stressed area food pantries are this holiday season, they swung into action.
The Hunters Point Civic Association and the LIC/Astoria Lions joined forces to mount their first ever food drive and now they are preparing to deliver over 3,300 pounds of collected items.
“We hooked up with Food Cellar and Urban Market in LIC and Associated in Sunnyside,” Hunters Point Civic Association President Brent O’Leary said. “They set up boxes for donations. We also got the Emerald Guild Society, an association of building supers. They set up boxes in 10 of our high-rise buildings.”
O’Leary and John Dallaire of the LIC/Astoria Lions set a goal of 2,000 pounds. “Because of the amazing generosity of the folks in LIC and Sunnyside, we now have 60 boxes packed with food,” O’Leary said, “Now I’ve got to rent a box van so we can deliver it all.”
Hour Children and Center of Hope International in Long Island City and the food pantry at St. Raphael’s Church in Sunnyside are destinations for the donated food.
It was at Center of Hope, Nov. 25, that the New York City Coalition Against Hunger released a study that showed nine out of 10 city food pantries and soup kitchens face longer lines as a result of federal cuts to SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Half have had to turn clients away, reduce the amount of food distributed per person and/or limit their hours of operation.
“These food pantries used to open just one day a week, but now they have to open three days a week for all these working people who, because of high rents, can’t afford food,” O’Leary said. “We had to do something to help out.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4538.