Diocesan News

Soup Kitchen Struggles to Meet Demand Amid Recent Migrant Surge

Men are pictured in a file photo eating a free meal in the cafeteria of a soup kitchen in Park Slope. (OSV News photo/CNS file, Gregory A. Shemitz)

By The Tablet Staff

PARK SLOPE — New York’s escalating migrant crisis has come to the doorstep of the organization Community Help in Park Slope (CHiPS), where workers are hard-pressed to keep up with the increasing demand for help.

Located at 200 Fourth Ave. in Park Slope, CHiPS used to feed 180 people a day. These days, they’re seeing double that amount, said Director of Food Services Pauline Auguste.

“We want to make sure everyone gets a meal. We don’t want to turn anyone away,” Auguste recently told Currents News. “Even after we’ve closed, we’re still giving out sandwiches.”

CHiPS, which has been around since 1971, is struggling to feed the growing numbers of hungry people coming to the charity each day.

Many of those seeking assistance are migrants who were bused into New York City from border states like Texas and are living temporarily at a hotel near CHiPS. 

Officials say more than 41,000 migrants have arrived in the city since the spring, many of them speaking no English, possessing only the clothes on their backs, and unable to legally work.

Mayor Eric Adams, who recently traveled to El Paso, Texas, to get a firsthand look at the situation at the border, stated publicly that New York City is facing a “disaster.”

He has requested $1 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help the city with the cost of housing and servicing the migrants.  

The city has opened 77 emergency shelters around the city, including hotels. But the rooms are not equipped with kitchens, so even if the migrants had money to buy food, they would have no way to prepare meals. 

Lines start forming outside CHiPS early in the morning. The sight is heartbreaking, according to workers. 

“The first day they came, we saw kids with no shoes, no jackets,” Auguste recalled. “There was one little boy who stuck his hand inside his T-shirt, and I had to walk away because I got so teary-eyed. 

“They’re not from here, but they’re human, and it’s heart-wrenching to see these things.”

CHiPS is spending $1,000 a day on food. The organization also receives food donations from city agencies, food co-ops, and private donations from local residents. 

“We rely very heavily on our volunteers. They have been very helpful. But it’s depleting our funding because we’re utilizing more funding to serve more people,” Auguste explained.

Still, CHiPS remains committed to its promise of never turning anyone away. 

“It’s going to get to the point where I’m scraping the bottom of my fridge just to make a meal,” Chef Matthew Caban told Currents News. “I know we’re a soup kitchen, but I don’t want to start serving soup every day. I try to make sure the food is of a certain quality. And with the demand, it’s starting to stress on that.”

Caban added that he has “a passion” for feeding hungry people but that CHiPS is “getting eaten out of house and home.”