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Food Pantries Across City Left With Empty Shelves During Summer

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)-- Many of New York City's hungry are coming home empty-handed this summer due to empty shelves at food pantries across the city.

CBS2's Esha Ray went to find out why.

Judith Nolfo is a regular at one food pantry in Long Island City and depends on it each week.

"Well, if you run short of money sometimes or if you need something this helps you out," she said.

The pantry, owned by the New York School of Urban Ministry, serves hundreds like Nolfo every month. However, it's not always the same story during the months of summer when demand goes up while supply runs out.

"So we're left scraping a little bit and we always manage to get through but it just ends up having an impact on the community here," pantry coordinator Lucas Mills said.

July through August is peak season for most pantries when more food is needed because kids are out of school and not getting lunches. It's also the beginning of the fiscal year which means city and state funding is not yet in.

"Many times we have to have participants choose between a milk or a juice, we'd love to give them both but we just can't, it's impossible," Hour Children Program Director Linda Manzione said.

Triada Stampas, with the Food Bank For New York City, said it's a system-wide crisis which affects more than 1,000 pantries across the boroughs.

"While we're in this phase where supply is delayed, you're relying on private donations and sometimes that doesn't provide the type of food that's needed, the quality of food that's needed or the amount," she explained.

At Hour Children, Manzione said clients start lining up three hours before opening.

"They don't want to be last on line. They're afraid they won't be able to get the food, if they're first on line they will," she said.

So is the city helping improve conditions? In a statement the mayor's office told CBS2, "HRA's Emergency Food Assistance Program (EFAP) is actively working with partners to increase the capacity and food supply of emergency food programs throughout the five boroughs."

They said they've added $4.5 million to this year's budget to close the gap. For now, all the pantries can do is sit and wait for the money. CBS2 reached out to the governor's office for comment about state funding, but has not yet heard back.


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