Bronx food pantry says they're serving over 3 million meals post-pandemic
NEW YORK - A food pantry in the Bronx says they're seeing more people show up for help than ever before. They say with the recent cuts in SNAP benefits because of an end of additional COVID-19 funding for the program, it's making matters more difficult for lower-income families.
It might look like an abundance of food in Wenibe De Los Santos' pantry, but the 49-year-old stocks up on food just in case she won't be able to afford anything in the near future. She says the fear comes from inflation and how high her rent could get.
"We eat the right portion, don't throw out nothing, don't waste nothing," said De Los Santos.
De Los Santos is one of the thousands of people in the Bronx who receives SNAP benefits and visits the food pantry once per month at the nonprofit called Part of the Solution, or POTS.
"This is for one month, because we so many… before they give more," De Los Santos said, showing CBS2 the bag of canned food she got for the month of May.
She says the demand for food at the pantry is the highest she's seen in the ten years since she's been going.
POTS explains the pandemic exacerbated food insecurity in the borough. Before the pandemic they say their pantry served 30,000 people and just last year it served 37,000 people. But they say the frequency of people visiting has tripled.
"Can you imagine we go from a million meals to 3.2 in less than two years?" said Taina Rodriguez, the Associate Director of Food and Dignity Programs at POTS.
Like De Los Santos, POTS says the clients who come into the pantry are juggling what to pay for each month.
"They see their rent is coming due and they need to keep that cash available to in order to make that rent payment," said Christina Hanson, the Executive Director at POTS.
"It is sad that we become somebody's dependency because this is their only way of survival," said Rodriguez.
"I'm scared because the rent is expensive for me," said De Los Santos. She says her biggest fear is moving back into a shelter.
"Especially when you're afraid to live in the streets," said De Los Santos. "It's hard."
The nonprofit POTS says they hope SNAP benefits will increase in the future, as recent cuts are causing families to struggle in the Bronx.
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