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Business is way up at local food pantry - ‘Reaching Out’ director reports increase in clientele in need of emergency help

With more and more people looking for help in feeding themselves and their families, the founder of a local food pantry is asking area residents to do what they can for their less fortunate neighbors.

Tom Neve, the executive director of Reaching Out Community Services, which runs a food pantry at 7708 New Utrecht Avenue, told members of Community Board 10, gathered at the Norwegian Christian Home for their November meeting, that the pantry he runs is getting more and more applicants.

“It’s kind of ironic to see how many people are struggling in the area,” which is one that many people do not associate with poverty, Neve told board members.

Yet, he said, people have been coming in to Reaching Out in increasing numbers. “It used to be a lot of seniors on fixed incomes,” he recalled. “Now, there are a lot of people in their 40s and 50s who lost their jobs and are kind of embarrassed.”

The food pantry currently serves about 1,800 people, Neve added. “There are more people now than ever,” he stressed. “It’s scary. We are at the point when we are getting more demand than supplies. The economy is worse now than it was before.”

But, Neve went on, “We don’t have the heart to say no to anybody yet.”

The food pantry is designed like a supermarket, Neve said, to allow those who utilize it to shop for what their family needs with dignity. And, he added, it is heart-breaking to watch children there with their parents getting worked up over things that many take for granted.

“There’s no reason why these kids have to be so excited to have a box of cereal,” he emphasized.

Everyone who utilizes the food pantry is screened for need. “We make sure we give to the needy, not the greedy,” Neve stressed.

Reaching Out Community Services, which is a not-for-profit organization, was founded in 1992. The food pantry is open from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. For further information, call 718-373-4565 or check the organization’s website, www. reachinout.org.

The Norwegian Christian Home is located at 1250 67th Street.

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