Forest Hills Parish Helps Feed the Hungry of N.Y.

Regular donations of candy and chocolate are made to the St. John’s Bread of Life Food Pantry, much to the delight of the many children who accompany their parents.

Every week, more than 15 volunteers – among them, parishioners from Our Lady Queen of Martyrs, Forest Hills – gather in the basement of St. John the Baptist church, Manhattan, to feed the hungry.

St. John the Baptist’s highly organized Bread of Life Food Pantry is one of the oldest continuously functioning pantries in all of New York. It began 34 years ago, and currently provides essential nourishment to more than 700 persons each week.  In 2011, a total of 36,168 were served.

Unlike a bread line, which dispenses ready-to-eat food, mainly to the homeless, a food pantry is dedicated to provide basic staples to families that have a roof over their heads and therefore can do their own cooking.

There has always been hunger among the less fortunate in the city, but the intractable economic crisis that hit the country five years ago further exacerbated the plight of low-income families (and caused many previously middle-class people to join their ranks), resulting in a steady increase in the number of people seeking help from this food pantry. In 2007, for example, it served 25,720 people; the 2011 figure is 40% higher.

Rising Cost of Feeding Poor
The overall cost of feeding the poor has increased over the years, proportionately to the increase in the number of those seeking help. Last year, for instance, the Bread of Life Food Pantry spent $253,410 to feed 36,168 – an average of $7 per person served. This enormous amount comes mainly from donations, which is the reason why the volunteers must continually ask for money.

Another way to help is by donating food, but of necessity this has to follow certain rules: the food must be non-perishable; rusty or dented cans are unacceptable; and expired food items are likewise unacceptable.

Food donations must be brought directly to the Bread of Life Food Pantry.

One of the pantry’s most faithful contributors is La Boulangerie, a bakery located on 73rd Rd. in Forest Hills. Each week, this bakery donates a large quantity of top-notch bread and pastries, a treat which is immediately distributed to families and individual.

A volunteer from Our Lady Queen of Martyrs parish cuts large loaves of bread donated by La Boulangerie of Forest Hills.