You are reading

Big Lines Form Outside Sunnyside Food Pantry, As People Become More Desperate

The line along 46th Street (Image by Michael Dorgan)

May 17, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Desperate Queens residents have been forming long lines outside a Sunnyside food pantry in recent weeks.

The queue for food outside the Mosaic Church Office on 43rd Avenue stretched an entire block Friday and demand is surging, according to local volunteers.

“Friday was by far the biggest we have seen, we saw people starting to line up at 2:30 p.m. and we don’t open until 5 p.m.,” said Woodside/Sunnyside Community Covid-19 Relief Group coordinator Sophia Moncayo.

The group, which was established in March by church leaders and civic organizers such as Brent O’Leary, provided non-perishable food items to more than 800 people last week.

The group operates from the Mosaic Church Office at 46-01 43rd Ave and Woodside on the Move’s offices at 51-23 Queens Blvd. The Mosaic Church location opens on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and the WOTM site opens every Saturday. Both sites are open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. to help feed needy residents in Queens.

Moncayo expects the lines to get even bigger because people are running out of money. The economic shutdown is set to continue until at least the end of May and many residents are without work.

The line along 46th Street. Volunteers expect the lines to get even bigger because people are running out of money. (Image by Michael Dorgan)

In its first week, the group saw between 50 and 75 people but the numbers have increased as the weeks have gone by, Moncayo said.

“This was nowhere near what was happening even a month ago and we’re starting to see people come from a lot of other areas like College Point, Brooklyn and as far away as The Bronx,” she said.

Needy residents are able to pick up a wide variety of food items such as canned foods, fruit, vegetables, pasta, and prepackaged goods. Other items include baby diapers and infant formula.

The line along 46th Street (Image by Michael Dorgan)

Food is given out based on what the people say they need, Moncayo said.

“People are very honest and even bring back certain foods if they find they don’t need them,” she said.

The group has about 40 volunteers handing out food, taking stock deliveries and providing door-to-door deliveries to housebound residents.

Around eight helpers hand out food behind the counter while three others will tend to people outside.

The outdoor group hand out water to keep people hydrated and bring elderly individuals to the head of the line to prevent them from standing too long.

Volunteers from the Woodside/Sunnyside Community Covid-19 Relief Group at the Mosaic Church Friday (Image by Michael Dorgan)

People can feel embarrassed to line up for food but it’s not their fault, Moncayo said.

“We try to make it a place where people feel welcome so we play some music and try to make them smile,” she said.

Simon Padilla, another coordinator with the group, said that while times are tough, a community spirit is rising that will have long term benefits.

“Something really beautiful is happening underneath all of this aside from the despair people are going through,” he said.

“The people receiving food want to give back to the community and so many have said they would love to volunteer their skills, like teaching a class or even help with the food distribution themselves,” he said.

The community spirit has allowed the group to raise over $50,000 from local people and small businesses.

A Delaware-based charity run by Queens natives Jeff and Michael Kaplan provided a big grant two weeks ago.

The charity promised to donate $10,000 if the Woodside/Sunnyside group could match it within a week. The Woodside/Sunnyside group pulled in $14,000– and got the $10,000.

The Mosaic church has been injecting cash and a Facebook fundraiser organized by Moncayo has raised almost $12,000 in the last 17 days.

Some of the stocked food at the Mosaic Church Friday (Image by Michael Dorgan)

Neighborhood businesses are helping out too. The Skillman Bar, located on 45-20 Skillman Ave., has been donating pallets of vegetables twice a week and teachers at I.S.125 have been delivering food and diapers. The Skillman is also working on a plan to organize the group’s food deliveries through its supplier in order to reduce costs.

Local residents are offering up whatever they can too by dropping off food at the Mosaic Church office. The center is open from 10 a.m. on weekdays to take deliveries and people can make financial donations there also.

“It is so comforting to see the community pull together and we will get through this,” Moncayo said.

However, the group is making a renewed call for financial donations because their cash will only last to the end of May due to the surge in demand.

“We are trying to plan for the long-term because people are not simply just going to get back to work as soon as the economy re-opens, Moncayo said.

Financial donations can be made via the group’s Facebook fundraiser page.

Some of the stocked food at the Mosaic Church Friday (Image by Michael Dorgan)

email the author: [email protected]

One Comment

Click for Comments 
Ellen

I am elderly and live in the neighborhood I do not want this to become a hotspot. please advise them to keep people on the lawn at least 6 feet away it does not look like they are observing social distancing
Thank you

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Long Island City teen sentenced in fatal shooting of ‘beloved’ school teacher at Queensbridge Houses in 2020: DA

A Long Island City man on Friday, Jan. 28, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the 2020 fatal shooting of a public school social studies teacher who was out walking his dog when he was caught in the crossfire during a confrontation between gang rivals in broad daylight, just blocks from his home, according to Queens District Attorney’s office.

Ike Ford, 19, of 12th Street, in Long Island City, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder. The teacher, George Rosa, 53, was shot in his abdomen by a stray bullet fired by Ford, who was just 17 years old at the time of the shooting but was sentenced as an adult given the severity of the crime, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

LaGuardia Community College receives federal funding to expand vocational training for the unemployed

LaGuardia Community College recently received more than $400,000 in federal funding to enhance and expand vocational training for underemployed New Yorkers in a city that is still working to recover from COVID-19 pandemic-induced job loss. The support was secured by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and former Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.

LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams explained that the school lost nearly a quarter of its students at the height of the pandemic due to the economic effects of the lockdown on low-income Queens households.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

These Queens eateries are participating in the upcoming NYC Restaurant Week

NYC Restaurant Week is underway, so nix that skillet and bring family and friends to your favorite neighborhood spot, or get inspired and break bread somewhere new and different. During this special citywide culinary event, food-lovers will enjoy curated menus and prix-fixe prices that are easy on the wallet.

Bookings began on Jan. 17 and are available until Feb. 12, and you can reserve a table at 30 participating Queens restaurants, along with hundreds more across the five boroughs.