The weekly food pantry that began in a Rockaway Boulevard parking lot in Ozone Park last summer passed a sobering benchmark this week.
For the first time, more than 1,000 people showed up for food.
“There’s a need, that’s all I can tell you,” said Sam Esposito, founder of the upstart Ozone Park Residents Block Association, which, with the local Kiwanis Club and members of the civilian patrol group, started the Saturday-morning food pantry last July.
“Think about it — people don’t start lining up at 6 o’clock in the morning unless there is a need. There’s a lot of unemployment,” he said. “Everybody hits bottom.”
When the pantry first opened, barely 100 people showed up for food allotments, much of it bought from local supermarkets, according to Esposito.
Since the beginning of the pandemic last March, established food pantries across Queens have seen the numbers of the people they serve skyrocket.
Food operations sponsored by churches and civic groups were nearly overwhelmed by needy families who turned to them by the thousands following the layoffs and business shutdowns of May and June.
In some parts of Queens, new food operations sprang up to help meet the need.
The new pantries could not get certified by the city fast enough to tap into the established distribution system that helps supply the older operations.
Since August, larger, city-sanctioned pantries in Brooklyn and Queens have quietly been supplying the Ozone Park pantry with fresh produce, milk, packaged food, necessities like baby diapers and the like, said Mohammad Kahn, OZPKRBA’s executive director.
“All the pantries order extra for us,” said Esposito. “Every Tuesday and Wednesday, they call and say come and get it.
“Other than that, no one wants to help us.”
Thought I put this out there too:
But on Sundays, volunteers organize pop-up pantries at different locations around Ozone Park to distribute hundreds of so-called “Trump boxes” — food boxes, each containing a letter signed by the president bought and distributed under a $4-billion U.S. Department of Agriculture program since last August.
This is what's messed up about the guy. Providing these services shows he's helping the poor get through this pandemic, there's absolutely no need for self-promotion. Be humble, Mr. President.