Helping Your Neighbors Through Hard Times and Holidays

Give back to the community at these local food pantries and soup kitchens

With Brooklyn's unemployment rate climbing past 10 percent, many local families are facing a tough holiday season this year.

Coordinators of Park Slope food pantries have certainly witnessed the effects of the economic downturn. Sekou Abdullah, the pantry manager of Imani House on Fifth Avenue, said he has noticed a startling increase in the number of clients between 25 and 30 years old.

"Two years ago, 80 to 85 percent of our clients were elderly," Abdullah said. "Now it's about a fifty-fifty split."

While Imani House has seen an overall increase in clients, Marge Miller from St. Augustine Church's Helping Hands Food Pantry said that their numbers have dropped.

"What has happened in our Park Slope area is that people have had to move out because they can't afford the rent," said Miller.

If the relentless call for conspicuous consumption is leaving a bad taste in your mouth this year, consider donating your time or some much-needed supplies to a local food pantry or soup kitchen. Patch picked a few that could use your help:

Imani House, a 17-year-old organization with a sister location in Liberia, serves 400 to 500 people at its Brooklyn food pantry every month. They try to serve as much fresh food as possible, but request donations of sealed, unopened food and clothes. "Whatever we can get is helpful," said pantry manager Sekou Abdullah. They distribute food on Wednesdays from 10 to 11 a.m., and can receive donations from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

76A Fifth Avenue; 718-638-2059


 Helping Hands Food Pantry

The Helping Hands Food Pantry at St. Augustine Church distributes food every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. The pantry accepts food donations of canned and other packaged goods all year. For the holidays, you can also donate wrapped gifts. Drop donations off at the church rectory.

116 Sixth Avenue; 718-783-3132


Park Slope Christian Help (CHIPS)

CHIPS operates its soup kitchen Monday through Saturday from 8 am to 4 pm, serving over 300 people a day. Volunteers are needed to help prepare and serve food, as well as clean, supervise, and fundraise.

200 Fourth Avenue; 718-237-2962


On the first Saturday of every month, volunteers at Old First Reformed Church get together to spend the morning cooking meals for the CHIPS soup kitchen. If you want to join in, just come to the church's side door and ring the bell. They start at 8 a.m. and deliver the meal in time for lunch at noon.

729 Carroll Street, 718-638-8300


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