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Big Lines Form Outside Sunnyside Food Pantry, As People Become More Desperate

The line along 46th Street (Image by Michael Dorgan)

May 17, 2020 By Michael Dorgan

Desperate Queens residents have been forming long lines outside a Sunnyside food pantry in recent weeks.

The queue for food outside the Mosaic Church Office on 43rd Avenue stretched an entire block Friday and demand is surging, according to local volunteers.

“Friday was by far the biggest we have seen, we saw people starting to line up at 2:30 p.m. and we don’t open until 5 p.m.,” said Woodside/Sunnyside Community Covid-19 Relief Group coordinator Sophia Moncayo.

The group, which was established in March by church leaders and civic organizers such as Brent O’Leary, provided non-perishable food items to more than 800 people last week.

The group operates from the Mosaic Church Office at 46-01 43rd Ave and Woodside on the Move’s offices at 51-23 Queens Blvd. The Mosaic Church location opens on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and the WOTM site opens every Saturday. Both sites are open from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. to help feed needy residents in Queens.

Moncayo expects the lines to get even bigger because people are running out of money. The economic shutdown is set to continue until at least the end of May and many residents are without work.

The line along 46th Street. Volunteers expect the lines to get even bigger because people are running out of money. (Image by Michael Dorgan)

In its first week, the group saw between 50 and 75 people but the numbers have increased as the weeks have gone by, Moncayo said.

“This was nowhere near what was happening even a month ago and we’re starting to see people come from a lot of other areas like College Point, Brooklyn and as far away as The Bronx,” she said.

Needy residents are able to pick up a wide variety of food items such as canned foods, fruit, vegetables, pasta, and prepackaged goods. Other items include baby diapers and infant formula.

The line along 46th Street (Image by Michael Dorgan)

Food is given out based on what the people say they need, Moncayo said.

“People are very honest and even bring back certain foods if they find they don’t need them,” she said.

The group has about 40 volunteers handing out food, taking stock deliveries and providing door-to-door deliveries to housebound residents.

Around eight helpers hand out food behind the counter while three others will tend to people outside.

The outdoor group hand out water to keep people hydrated and bring elderly individuals to the head of the line to prevent them from standing too long.

Volunteers from the Woodside/Sunnyside Community Covid-19 Relief Group at the Mosaic Church Friday (Image by Michael Dorgan)

People can feel embarrassed to line up for food but it’s not their fault, Moncayo said.

“We try to make it a place where people feel welcome so we play some music and try to make them smile,” she said.

Simon Padilla, another coordinator with the group, said that while times are tough, a community spirit is rising that will have long term benefits.

“Something really beautiful is happening underneath all of this aside from the despair people are going through,” he said.

“The people receiving food want to give back to the community and so many have said they would love to volunteer their skills, like teaching a class or even help with the food distribution themselves,” he said.

The community spirit has allowed the group to raise over $50,000 from local people and small businesses.

A Delaware-based charity run by Queens natives Jeff and Michael Kaplan provided a big grant two weeks ago.

The charity promised to donate $10,000 if the Woodside/Sunnyside group could match it within a week. The Woodside/Sunnyside group pulled in $14,000– and got the $10,000.

The Mosaic church has been injecting cash and a Facebook fundraiser organized by Moncayo has raised almost $12,000 in the last 17 days.

Some of the stocked food at the Mosaic Church Friday (Image by Michael Dorgan)

Neighborhood businesses are helping out too. The Skillman Bar, located on 45-20 Skillman Ave., has been donating pallets of vegetables twice a week and teachers at I.S.125 have been delivering food and diapers. The Skillman is also working on a plan to organize the group’s food deliveries through its supplier in order to reduce costs.

Local residents are offering up whatever they can too by dropping off food at the Mosaic Church office. The center is open from 10 a.m. on weekdays to take deliveries and people can make financial donations there also.

“It is so comforting to see the community pull together and we will get through this,” Moncayo said.

However, the group is making a renewed call for financial donations because their cash will only last to the end of May due to the surge in demand.

“We are trying to plan for the long-term because people are not simply just going to get back to work as soon as the economy re-opens, Moncayo said.

Financial donations can be made via the group’s Facebook fundraiser page.

Some of the stocked food at the Mosaic Church Friday (Image by Michael Dorgan)

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46 Comments

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Mac

Hashtagger propagandist – South Dakota actually holds title as highest death rates in the world regarding the virus. Blue states out perform red states in income, education, individual health, crime and access to healthcare to just name a few according to IS Census, FBI and AMA. Do you get tired of being wrong?

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Gardens Watcher

Seeing a photo of a food line is tragic. Seeing it in person is shocking.

I saw lines that wrapped around the blocks on my way to the Grand Central Parkway on Wednesday. Just blocks from LaGuardia airport. This is America??

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Conal

That’s actually a really interesting point even though it doesn’t add to the conversation from the article, it’s still worth reading and thinking about/researching. The most fascinating part for me is that you’re both wrong

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The US has the most cases and the most deaths in the world

Yes..those progressive Governors in those blue states really dropped the ball and caused all those deaths with their incompetence…amazing how the red states did so well with similar populations…maybe the blue state governors will learn how to balance their budgets after this debacle…see ya at the polls!!

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Mac

Hashtagger AKA China ban- Keep cutting and pasting the very same lie and will come true. The orange dotard you helped elect is responsible for the coronavirus toll on this city and country. Everyone knows this. You’re beating a dead horse. The US has the most cases and the most deaths in the world.

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I agree, Trump's response resulted in wiping out the entire nationwide economy.

We saw the single worst day on the stock market in HISTORY. What had more of an effect on NYC: the national economy crashing or Cuomo mandating health restrictions?

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China travel ban

Thank God our President was ahead of the curve and banned travel from those affected areas in China…he saved potentially millions of lives…it was a shame to see the left accusing him of racism when and playing identity politics when we needed real leadership..hopefully those responsible for the criminal conspiracy to derail his presidency will be brought to justice soon…lying to congress and defrauding a federal judge to get a FISA warrant are felonies…gonna be a great lead up to the election…cant wait to see clapper, Brennan, Comey, McCabe, and the rest of the Obama gang do that perp walk in front of the cameras….see ya at the polls!!

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40,000 people have entered from China since Trump's failed "ban"

Many of them Chinese nationals, the “ban” only banned travel from a few areas of China.

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J murphy

Very interesting….I notice most people on line were overweight….on their cell phones….part of that dynamic group of immigrants supposedly contributing to our great country. Believe it or not ….many businesses are desperate to hire workers….Home Depot…Amazon…..etc. How about washing windows? painting houses….pick up a trade? Unfortunately, this requires physical labor….something that most of this generation are unwilling to do. The ” Government” will take care of you….that’s its purpose is….so they believe. Nothing wrong with people who TRULY deserve help getting it…..lets just be honest about it.

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ak_nyc

To everyone who reads this regardless of where you live and who you are, if you can give food or donations to a cause like this, please do. This group is helping the most vulnerable in our community and deserve our support during times like this.

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Juan

Don’t demand Cuomo to open up NYC. You’ll just need to do it yourself. I can’t believe I’m saying this but the cure can’t be worse that the virus. Trump was right!

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Trump cost 80,000 American lives and counting

That’s your definition of “right?” He’s suggesting we fight it with Lysol…

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Yy

Joe,
Yes there is food at schools for anyone between 7:30 and 1:30, M-F.
There are lines there too.
The food is cereal, juice, sandwich, fruit, milk.

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Guest

Economy is not shut down, non essential businesses are shut down, it won’t kill you if you don’t get a haircut for 2-3 months. This is hurting only illegals, the same illegals NY welcomed with open arms, gave them driver licenses.

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I agree, Trump is weak on border security.

Trump pretended Mexico would make a “one-time payment” for Mexico and you fell for it.

4 years later with a Republican senate, and he hasn’t built a single inch.
Deportations are WAY down compared to Obama.

So you’re right, Trump is to blame. Thanks for pointing that out.

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Trump's reponse caused the worst unemployment rate in history

It must be putting a strain on the system, like you said

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Mac

Hashtagger- Along with posting propaganda, you have a problem with “causality”. This is what happens when you have a president who ignores a pandemic for months. Portions of the economy were closed down to slow the spread of the virus that nearly decimated our healthcare system let alone killed nearly 100K people in just a few weeks. Your irresponsible cult leader allowed this virus to spread by down playing its danger. Idiots like you would have us back at where we were in April in no time. All your propaganda is caused by the orange makeup wearing dotard you helped get elected. “People who elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices,” George Orwell

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Susan

Close the street to cars so people and cyclists can maintain social distancing while they wait in line at food banks!

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You returned the money the government gave you for free right?

Surely you wouldn’t be hypocritical enough to let the government redistribute taxpayer money to give it to you for free?

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arvin

Like maybe AOC can come out of her upscale DC hideaway and pretend to really care about these people..Now that JVB is no longer running for anything you won’t see him popping up in these photo opportunities anymore

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Trump owns the second largest mansion in Florida

He’s playing golf there during a pandemic. But that snooty Congresswoman has the gall to live in DC!

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Angelica

As of today, I only have only $13.49 cent in my account…and I will be one of those people waiting in line soon. I hope it rains so people stay home.

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Raquel

The number of people in the hospitals is down. Can some local restaurants start donating more meals to hungry residents? You know like for the people who cant afford a meal instead of giving it to doctors and nurses who can afford take out. Or does it look better on social media for some of them to feed those who make above average salaries than hungry minorities?

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Damaris

This is heartbreaking to see my friends, neighbors and community like this. Please…make a money or food donation to help those who might not have a meal tonight.

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Linda

I think these are the same people i saw in March hoarding the toilet paper!

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Jackie

With everything going on its become more acceptable to wait in line and get what you can for free. Some are even streaming it live on fb and ig for views. Videos are going viral and its has become trendy to upload vids from the epicenter of the pandemic.

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Rosita

If you can afford it, please donate money &/or food to your local food bank or community pantry.

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Joe

I thought NYC was giving out free meals from the public schools. Is that just for kids? I feel like I’ve heard “3 meals a day for anyone who wants it” over and over. I am sorry but a good number of people tend to show up for things they do not really need when its for free. Not saying all of them but a good number.

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Maritza

Help your neighbors and loved ones, if you have extra food or supplies and see them hurting help them out if you can ❤ Even if it’s not much I’m sure they’d appreciate your help. Money to give is good too.

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Helen

This shouldn’t be a reality! So many farms throwing produce away, farms dumping milk down the drain…this is just awful!

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Sam

Soon a successful shopping run WILL BE DEPEND ON THE SIZE OF THE CARDBOARD BOX YOU GET WITH FOOD

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Mario

I just applied for “emergency food stamps” and was denied. I couldn’t believe it.

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#cuomoshaircut

This is going to get worse. I saw long lines also in Corona, Queens, early in the morning. This is what happens when you shut down the economy – you hurt working class people and those who are in the “underground economy” who work as baby sitters, etc. The governor and mayor have botched this but good! In addition to sending the elderly to disease ridden nursing homes to die, the governor and mayor are adding to those who barely scrape by. I know formerly middle class people who are going to public schools for food – and that includes independent contractors.

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Megan

This will reverberate for years even after the “crisis” has ended. NYC already had a large gap between rich and poor, and this pandemic has only served to spread the gap even further.

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Kayla

Our community needs help. Those of us in denial need to wake up and see what is happening in our neighborhood. Neighbors are desperate for food. Food banks are overwhelmed. The demand is great.

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David

Mosaic Church also has a website where you can specify the location and make a donation online.

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