To many, it is a second home where lending a helping hand to people in need is always in season. One community asset is a charming house at 108-13 67th Road, which was built in 1925 and acquired in the mid-2000s as a communal space.
Now it serves as a neighborhood food pantry.
It began with a food drive in 1984, which is when the Central Queens Y began providing non-perishable food through a partnership with the Met Council.
Today, through a partnership with UJA-Federation of New York, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty procures and distributes kosher food for the pantry, which is staffed by director of Work Support Susan Meza, food pantry coordinator Jhadran Rojas, and assistant Ana Mizrahi.
“In 2017, when we moved our food pantry behind the Central Queens Y, we made our offerings accessible through a digital platform so that clients could log-in to a portal, select the items they like, and schedule a time to pick up their groceries,” said Mintz. “Over the years we added more items, including fresh produce and protein.
“We also help clients who don’t have access to technology sign up for pantry services and place orders on iPads and computers,” added Mintz.
The 67th Road house was adaptively reused by adding several small conference rooms and a large one to host presentations and work groups. In addition, a kitchen was expanded and large refrigerators were installed.
Adjacent to the pantry is another flourishing feature.
“In our garden we grow fresh produce that we distribute, and we work with volunteers to provide them with seeds and support, so that they can also grow produce to be donated to our pantry,” said Mintz.
Over 10,000 families have been served by the Central Queens food pantry since July. Since the pandemic began, volunteering has been on the rise.
“We are grateful for the 253 volunteers across our two food pantries,” said Mintz, “which includes people who volunteered in our cafeteria pre-pandemic and those who mobilized and delivered groceries and meals during the pandemic.”
Recently, residents of The Mayflower at 69-10 Yellowstone Boulevard coordinated a food drive to support the Commonpoint Queens food pantry.
“We hope to create more partnerships like that of The Mayflower and for them to continue their generosity, so other apartment buildings will follow their great example,” Mintz said. “Our numbers at the food pantry quadrupled, and we see more and more communities hurting. We are always looking for collaboration ideas.”
In addition to the families who use the food pantry, volunteers also deliver meals to homebound seniors.
“It's sad, but we cannot tell you how many people told us that we are keeping them alive,” said Mintz.