Chelsea Church sees 2,264% increase in demand for pantry meals amid coronavirus pandemic


CHELSEA, Manhattan (WABC) – A Manhattan church pantry distribution has seen a massive increase in demand since the start of the pandemic, and almost every morning of the week you’ll find a line of people s ‘lay around the corner to the Church of the Holy Apostles in Chelsea, waiting for food.“I have worked my whole life. I was fired, ”said a man in line. “You don’t expect to wake up one morning and be like I’m homeless. It’s something you have to deal with.
Holy Apostles offers one of the largest food programs in town, the church offers daily meals in its soup kitchen as well as a pantry program to provide families and individuals who need enough food during one week.

Since the coronavirus pandemic, the demand for services has increased dramatically.

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“I think what it says is that people are afraid. They are scared and nervous about where their next meal is coming from, ”said Michael Ottley, COO. “There has always been a problem in New York. There was 1.2 million food insecure in New York City and I would say that in the end it will be well over 2 million. It’s sad and it’s scary. It doesn’t just happen in New York City. It is happening across the country. ”

Compared to last year, the distribution of the Holy Apostles’ Pantry saw a 2,264% increase in demand for weekly meals.

In July, the soup kitchen served approximately 122,000 meals, a 307% increase in meals served from the same month last year.

“It’s sad that people have to line up, in the heat, storms and rain, and wait for a place in line to get food,” Ottley said. “I’m starting to see that it affects all social strata. These are people who are unemployed, underemployed or on leave. These are people who are short of options in a city that is expensive to live in.

Ottley fears the current need is just the beginning of food insecurity perpetuated by the ongoing pandemic, a problem he sees occurring in cities across the country.

“We are here to feed the people. We are here to make their life a little easier. Since 1982 we have been here and we are a pillar of the Chelsea community, and we will continue to do so, ”said Ottley. “But the city needs to talk. We need to talk to each other. She needs a lot of people to come together and find a real solution to the problem. It’s not a city-wide problem, it’s a national problem. ”

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