Pandemic worsens NYC's food crisis

The lines are long and the need is enormous. More than 1 million New Yorkers can't afford food, and standing on long lines at food banks is now too common amid the pandemic.

"We have done disasters before but nothing is even close to what we are doing now," Alexander Rapaport, the executive director of Masbia soup kitchen network, told FOX 5 NY.

Masbia soup kitchen network opened 15 years ago. It has locations in Borough Park and Flatbush in Brooklyn and in Forest Hills in Queens. Rapaport said he has seen a 500% increase in demand. 

An estimated 1.5 million New Yorkers cannot afford food, according to the New York Times. Their only lifeline is a food pantry.

"I'm on a limited income. I visit every two to three weeks," said Denise Allen, a mother of one.

Rapaport said there is so much need. So much so that for the last three days, Rapaport, his staff, and volunteers have been operating around the clock. All three locations are now open 24/7, feeding 1,500 families a day, but it is still not enough, he said.

Instead of making people stand on a long line for hours, Masbia has transitioned into what Rapaport called digital lines. You now have to make an appointment to pick up your box of food.

"We are spreading that out so it doesn't create chaos on the block and people aren't embarrassed for standing on long lines," he said.

To make an appointment, text the word "FOOD" to 7-26879.

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