Nov. 20, 2020 By Michael Dorgan
The organizers of a Sunnyside food pantry – where hundreds of residents in need receive free grocery items each week – have been recognized by an international non-profit organization.
Several of the organizers, who operate the Mosaic Food Pantry on 43rd Avenue, were named recipients of the Neighborhood Everyday Hero Award last week by the Kiwanis International Queens West Division for providing food to struggling residents throughout the pandemic.
The award recognizes people who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help residents during the COVID-19 shutdowns without expecting anything in return.
The Mosaic Food Pantry, which operates out of the Mosaic Church Office, located at 46-01 43rd Ave., was established in March by civic organizers Brent O’Leary and church leader Pastor Dan Sadlier. The pair set up the pantry to tackle food insecurity within the community as the coronavirus shutdowns took hold.
The pantry has grown in size and now serves around 1,400 people each week. The pantry operates every Monday and Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Residents in need have been able to pick up a wide variety of food items from the pantry such as canned food, fruit, vegetables, pasta, and prepackaged goods. Other items include baby diapers and infant formula.
Howard Brickman, the president of the Kiwanis Sunnyside Chapter, nominated the founders of the pantry for the award along with Rut Ostos and Sofia Moncayo who manage it.
Volunteers Lucy Bodden and Jimmy Canarozzi, the owner of Uncle Jimmy’s Pizzeria, were also nominated for regularly donating food to the pantry.
Kiwanis International Queens West Division then selected each member of the group as a recipient of the award and Brickman presented them with individual certificates at the food pantry on Nov. 12.
Brickman said all five were deserving of the award since they have been a lifeline to people who have fallen on hard times.
“Throughout the year I would see long lines of people waiting outside the church for food and it touched my heart emotionally,” Brickman said.
“They are incredible volunteers and without them, hundreds of people in our community would go hungry,” he said.
Brickman noted that they not only handed out food during their spare time but they also helped raise money and sourced food donations.
The pantry is subsidized through financial donations and food contributions made by local businesses and residents. The pantry also receives large deliveries of perishable food items each week via a USDA grant that was secured by O’Leary.
O‘Leary, however, was quick to praise the efforts of the volunteer team and said he was pleased that they have been recognized for their efforts.
“I am truly amazed at the countless hours these selfless volunteers give of themselves running and organizing the food pantry. They are superhuman,” O’Leary said.
“I am happy that Kiwanis International has recognized their tremendous efforts to keep our food-insecure neighbors fed during this pandemic,” he said.
O’Leary said that the pantry is always seeking monetary and food donations and the holiday season can be a particularly challenging time for parents.
He asked people to make financial contributions by clicking on this link. Then, under the giving tab, choose “COVID-19 Sunnyside Woodside Food Distribution” on the dropdown menu.
Food donations can also be dropped off at the church.