How Food Pantries Are Helping The Hunger Problem In NYC

How Food Pantries Are Helping The Hunger Problem In NYC

Did you know that 1 in 5 New Yorkers suffer from hunger?

As a volunteer at Our Lady of Good Counsel’s Food Pantry on Staten Island, I have been blessed to collaborate with some truly incredible individuals, and these relationships have molded me into the empowered woman I am today.

Every moment at the food pantry has been an eye-opening experience, and I am grateful to be a part of such a compassionate community of volunteers. I have been a volunteer since the age of eleven, and it is heartwarming to recognize how my weekly service hours have contributed to the health and happiness of countless individuals on Staten Island.

Since 1993, the mission of our food pantry has been simple: love our neighbors. Under the leadership of Maryann Bollinger and Dolores Connelly, our mission comes to fruition every single week. These women are passionate. Their concern for others is genuine, and they pour their hearts into every single task that comes their way.

In addition to managing our weekly operations, they apply for food grants, coordinate countless donations, organize holiday food drives, pick up food from various locations around the island, accept deliveries during the week, and supervise volunteers like me.

They handle such demanding positions with poise, and I will eternally admire their commitment to such an amazing organization.

With their guidance, our pantry furnishes food to approximately 240 families per month, providing bags of groceries to nearly 80 families each week. Each customer receives a bag with staple food items, such as canned soups, pasta, peanut butter, vegetables, and cereal. In an additional bag, our customers are provided with fresh produce, meat, beans, bread, cake, juice, and other nonperishable items. If there is money to spare, our pantry is also able to provide eggs, milk, and butter for the long line of people outside.

Volunteering for Our Lady of Good Counsel Food Pantry has not only been an incredible opportunity for me to discover the importance of community service, but it has enabled me to develop a deeper layer of gratitude for things I had previously taken for granted.

By helping people who live in a state of such desperation, I have come to learn that happiness cannot be derived from material items. Rather, my greatest joys have been attained through a sincere willingness to help others.

By volunteering at this food pantry, I have learned that there is a larger hunger problem in Staten Island than I could have ever imagined. Hunger exists in front of our eyes, and it affects every single neighborhood in our region. It impacts people of every age, race, gender, religion, and ethnicity. Over 1.4 million people in New York City depend on food pantries for survival. In other terms, one out of every five New Yorkers suffers from the pangs of hunger each day.

The most difficult aspect of volunteering is seeing young children step through the door; it is evident that they are hurting, and I can see desperation in the eyes of some parents. Hunger is a pressing issue here on Staten Island, and I am committed to ending such a horrific problem.

In the future, I hope to advocate the life-giving power of proper nutrition. I plan on promoting the blatant atrocities of hunger, and I seek to expose others to the critical significance of food. Essentially, I desire to pursue my passion for nutrition and combine it with purpose. Malnutrition affects every stage of life and has severe consequences that can impact countless generations. I hope to have a voice in this fight against global hunger.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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A Love Letter To My Happy Place, Taco Bell

A real bond between a girl and her food is everlasting.

Dear Taco Bell,

Everyone has a place that is special to their heart, that removes them from the hectic realities of everyday life and into a calmer, happier state of mind. For some people, it may be the peaceful setting of the woods, a cozy bedroom, or a park filled with childhood memories; However, Taco Bell, you are my happy place.

Even though most people wouldn’t find you very special, and frankly, a lot of people don’t even admit that they like you, you will always have a special place in my heart.

I really appreciate how you have always been there for me. You never let me down, besides the fact that you no longer have Salsa Verde sauce, but I’m not one to hold a grudge, though it does feel as if something is missing.

From a very young age, you were always the place I looked forward to going to most. Every Saturday, I tried to convince my dad and brother to visit you for lunch, and even when they didn’t want to see you, I wouldn’t betray you. While they would go to a different fast food chain, I would make them stop at you first so that I could still have a part of you with me while they ate at another restaurant. I remember when you sold kid’s meals that came with a side of chips and cheese, which was perfect to satisfy my taco-loving soul.

As the years went on, I didn’t see you as much, but I still craved all that you have to offer. After a bad day at school, there is nothing that I would have liked to do more than to cuddle up with a Loaded Potato Griller and a Baja Blast Freeze. After an all-day softball competition, the only thing that would satisfy my hunger would be a Chicken Quesarito and Cinnabon Delights. After hours of debating where we should go to dinner, my mind always wandered to a Cheesy Gordita Crunch and a Chipotle Chicken Griller. The list of occasions where I want to be with you goes on and on.

Getting older, I knew that if I ate too much fast food, I’d gain weight, but that didn’t stop me from getting a job with you for my first ever part-time job. Everyone is shocked to know that I worked at Taco Bell for a whole year and am still so in love, but a real bond between a girl and her food is everlasting.

To this day, I treat myself to seeing you whenever I need a break from reality. I even went four times in two days during finals week…oops. Your food has been a comfort for me for as long as I remember, and nothing can take that away from me.

I love to bring other people, especially those who have never been blessed by the Taco Bell gods to venture out and allow their taste buds to savor the food so meaningful to me. While they may be underwhelmed, I am never disappointed.

Anyways, thank you for always being there for me, even though there were times where I chose others over you, you always let me back in. You are the one thing that has never betrayed, backstabbed, or hurt me. I’m sure I will visit you again soon! Probably within the next few days tbh...

All my love,

The Girl Who Is Too Obsessed

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Schugg

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8 Customers You'll Meet At Your Starbucks

"-That's like sooo basic!"

Ah. What a beautiful splendorous morning. There are many ways to start one, but my favorite one is always with a trip to my local overpriced coffee shop. As I frequented the establishment over the years, I’ve noticed that after a while, the customers become… familiar. Here is 8 types of them I’ve found.

i. The ‘healthy’ eater

She talks a lot about leading a healthy lifestyle. Does yoga thrice a week, makes a big fuss out of detoxes and eating right. She’s a sucker for an acai bowl, and a dreamer at heart. Gets a venti double chocolate frappuccino with whipped cream blended in, java chips, four pumps of caramel syrup, with a banana blended in for the sake of how bananas she is. None of my business though.

ii. The Artist

They are more of a myth than a person. There’s no reason in any season to get creative juices flowing in the air, intoxicating and stimulating imagination with sweet cocaine of coffee, their spiraling addiction coming into friction with the murmur of the moody meager morning-

I’ve never met a person who has actually written something profound in a cafe. You can’t. Whatever they’re doing, it probably is an intellectual sham, because you can’t write with someone yelling “Betsy!” every minute from behind the counter.

iii. The WiFi Thief

This person is here for the free WiFi, and nothing else. They have a beverage from elsewhere, take up the comfiest seat in the cafe and never seem to leave. Good for them?

iv. The “basic”

Ladies (and gents, although the stereotype applies generally to women for some reason) you’re NOT basic. You’re all unique gemstone-like snowflakes, who happen to share an interest in pumpkin spice lattes, certain kinds of clothing people consider UGG-ly, and seem to have your names grown at the same petri dish. Ashley is a good name though! Don't be ashamed to be basic!

v. The Cop

If you frequent the same Starbucks for long enough, you’ll notice a police officer or two (or three) pay a visit. The funny thing is even though you know they're there just for coffee a part of you hopes something exciting could happen.

vi. The Trendy Hipster

This is someone who has given up on this mortal realm. This is someone who when they speak their order, has lightning flash. They will order whatever is the most complicated and popular drink on the menu. For every new secret recipe they come up with, a million baristas die a broiling cruel and senseless death.

vii. The Intern

You will see them during afternoons or early mornings- especially if you live in the city. Their job description said they’ll accrue priceless experience working at Big Daddy Inc, but unfortunately this literally priceless experience consists of ordering 8 cups of coffee for everyone in the office. If they are ahead of you, consider yourself late to class.

viii. Your Best Friend

Okay, they’re not your best friend, but they certainly seem to know everyone on staff. The second they enter, from within the depths beyond the counter and the La Boulangerie glass case, someone greets out their name. Even some of the customers there know them. Do they come here a lot? Are they a neighboring business owner perhaps? Or, are they a mini celebrity or a mere phantom employee?

If you keep your eyes peeled, you are certain to find and stumble across someone like this at your local Starbucks!

Remember that this list, much like a pokedex, keeps on expanding on and on as the time goes by, so feel free to suggest who else should be added to it!

Cover Image Credit: Leah Kelley

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