The Greenpoint Hunger Program is seeking support for their new outdoor set-up in response to social distancing guidelines meant to slow the spread of coronavirus.
With the launch of a crowdfunding campaign for tech + communications support, GHP hopes to be able to continue to serve the neighborhood in the front yard of the Greenpoint Reformed Church (136 Milton St.), where an indoor community dinner usually happens of Wednesday nights and a food pantry operates on Thursdays:
To keep everyone as safe as possible during the pandemic, we moved the Food Pantry & Soup Kitchen outside. Since we use laptops to register and check in our Pantry guests, we had to find a way to immediately get internet service in the front yard… a Hotspot!
It works perfectly and will be increasingly important to keep the line that we expect to get longer and longer moving quickly. Many of our guests are elderly or disabled, so standing in line for hours is impossible.
This was an entirely unexpected out-of-pocket expense for the program. And other expenses for keeping communications open and critical hardware functioning are looming, so we are asking for support.
Every dollar helps keep us open and able to continue feeding hungry New Yorkers. THANK YOU!
Those seeking to help GHP should hold off on food donations for right now: “Luckily for us we are doing really well,” Joan Benefiel, director of the program said. “We have plenty of food through our relationships with Food Bank and the city, state, and federal funding that we already get, and also through United Way, but this could change at any time,” she said.
The current need is to first set-up GHP with internet capabilities in order to process and serve guests out-doors, and then identify the vulnerable people who are suck inside.
“It’s been interesting that we haven’t seen a jump, but what’s happening is that older guests have stopped coming,” Benefiel said as she suspects senior citizens fear going outside.
In terms of demand for food at GHP, there has not been an increase since the start of the pandemic: “You would think that the numbers would increase, except for the fact that so many people who come to us who are elderly are staying home,” she said.
In order to bring vital food supplies to those who most need it, Benefiel says the next step for GHP is to deliver food pantry bags and to stay tuned for new volunteer opportunities.