In the last week of February alone, the church's food pantry managed to help out 650 individuals by providing them with fresh fruit and other groceries in order to make ends meet.
And while pastor Ann Kansfield is happy to help, she said she is not surprised by the numbers.
“There was always a rise in the number of people who came to the food pantry” she said, noting that when the food pantry first opened in October 2007, in six months the number of people attending rose to 100 and in the second year, the kitchen had helped 200.
“It's something we've really had to be able to keep up with,” she added.
The church, which has a congregation of 80, has managed to keep up with the surge with help from the Food Bank For New York City, City Harvest, local donors as well as Community Supported Agriculture groups (CSAs) which enable the kitchen to provide what Kansfield hopes is a significant portion of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Kansfield said that the kitchen serves people mostly from the North Brooklyn area. And while she noted that the food pantry helps a large portion of senior citizens, an influx of working families have recently began seeking out the kitchen for help. Particularly in the afternoon, she said a “significant” number of individuals who are part of working families visit the kitchen.
Food insecurity has been on the rise in recent months. The Food Bank for New York City has released various reports showing the rise of hunger and food insecurity all across New York.
A report released in January by the Food Bank, entitled, “NYC Hunger Experience 2011: Sacrifice and Support”, found that more than one in three Brooklyn residents, or 34 percent, have trouble affording food.
To stretch resources and money, nearly two out of five Brooklyn residents, or 39 percent, ate smaller meals, and one in five skipped them altogether.
According to the Food Bank, new findings indicate that a growing percentage of college-educated residents are having difficulty affording food and are concerned about needing food assistance in the future.
According to the Food Bank, between 2010 and 2011, the percentage of New York City residents with a college degree reporting difficulty affording needed food increased by 25 percent; and for those with a graduate/professional degree, by 11 percent.
Between 2010 and 2011, the percentage of New York City residents with annual household incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 who reported difficulty affording needed food increased by 23 percent.
In addition, nearly one in five Brooklyn residents paid rent instead of grocery shopping, one in five paid utilities, and nearly seven in 10, or 13 percent, paid for medicine or medical bills instead of food.
Programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food stamps to more than 1.8 million New York City residents, and The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP), which provides emergency food to 1.4 million New York City residents who rely on soup kitchens and food pantries, faced cuts last year, threatening to drastically reduce food support.
Kansfield said she decided to start the food pantry in October 2007 after she saw people ringing the bell of the church at all times of the day in need of food.
“It became apparent that the church needed a kitchen to help many instead of handing out food individually,” she said. “We want to make sure that everyone has access to food.”
The kitchen is open on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. A free dinner is offered at the church Wednesday nights at 6 p.m. And on Mondays between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the church offers help with filling out food stamp applications.
To donate, a check can be sent to the church's address, 136 Milton Street, Greenpoint, 11222. Potential donors can also donate online by emailing email@example.com and using Paypal or by calling the church at (718) 383-5941.