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Food Fight Breaks Out at St. Raphael’s Food Pantry

Dec. 12, 2012 By Bill Parry

A public spat has broken out between a Long Island City church pastor and a disgruntled parishioner who claims that a $2,000 donation to the church food pantry vanished.

Patricia Magda, a food-pantry recipient, claimed in a letter published by Woodside Herald that $2,000 worth of food donated by local businesses never made it to the shelves of St. Raphael’s food pantry– as intended. The donation to the 35-20 Greenpoint Ave. church included some high quality food items, according to Magda.

“None of this food was given out to clients (that I could see),” wrote Magda.  “Is that quality stuff only for the people who work the pantry and are clients as well? I also never see any of the donated stuff left in the basket at Sunday masses given out, unless it’s for favorite clients – not the women who come in with hungry kids to feed.”

In response, Father Jerry Jecewiz of St Raphael’s Church wrote a letter a week later that was published in the Woodside Herald on Dec. 7 in defense of the food pantry.

“I want to assure all area residents who know about, help or use the Pantry that every item of donated food, whether left in the food baskets in church or collected through community support, is distributed justly to needy persons, and is not stolen by Pantry workers or rerouted, in Ms. Magda’s words, to ‘favorite clients’. These false accusations dispirit our helpers, all of whom are dedicated, unpaid volunteers.”

Richard O’Connor, a pantry volunteer for 14 years, said: “The woman is 100% wrong. What she wrote is so untrue.” He said he was in attendance when the food was picked up from a group of Skillman Avenue restaurants and loaded into the van. Then, one of the Skillman Avenue business owners drove it straight to the pantry, he added.

The Woodside Herald said it regretted printing the letters “because of the controversy it’s caused and time that has been wasted in a negative direction.”

Father Jecewiz said his goal is to protect the image of the food pantry and its 18 volunteers.

“It’s important for me to defend these volunteers who were accused of stealing from our needy clients,” Father Jecewiz said. “They’re here two days a week in all kinds of weather.”

The food pantry has been in operation for 16 years and feeds 1,700 people every month. It depends largely on the generosity of private donors and local businesses sending their overstocked goods.

“I’d hate for any of those donors that help us have second thoughts about what we do here,” Father Jecewiz said. “Silver Cup Studios does a collection for us because one employee noticed a line one day while sitting at a red light. What would they think if they read her letter?”

While O’Connor was not very complimentary of Magda, Father Jecewiz said: “We’re sad this happened, but we won’t treat her any differently: if she needs us, we’re here for her.”

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Chris Gavin

I volunteer my Saturdays to the St. Raphael’s Food Pantry. Monday to Friday I work as a Health Care Professional practicing critical thinking. On Saturdays I do the grunt work of stocking shelves and breaking boxes in God’s House. That generous donation in question went directly to our clients. I know, because I was there. St. Raphael’s Pantry is the Hand of God working through His volunteers. A Blessed Place. I need the Pantry more than it needs me.

Jerry Banberger

@Leary Reader-
Perhaps I was absent from school the day they taught how to fact-check opinions. If you read the Woodside Herald’s “Letters to the Editor” heading, you will see a disclaimer stating “letters are the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of the Woodside Herald.” Would you think that’s a clue we need to take what follows with a grain of salt? It is most important to get the facts straight, and to call things what they are, before you slam the WH for writing an article. If you want to vilify the editor and/or publisher of that publication, why not also attack the publisher of the Sunnyside Post for allowing some of the crack pot opinions and misinformation we see expressed here from readers? (apologies, CM, no insult intended)
“A blight on the community”? I don’t think so!

choco-bot the chocolate robot

You mean quality stuff like truffle oil, cavier and Rao’s tomato sauce?
… or we talking just stuff thats not within a week of the expiration date?



she is LYING and there is a sense of forcible leaching going on here. Most food pantries use a ” first in first out” method of giving out food, especially for non perishables. What? She expected them to hand out the newest items first?

43rd @ 43rd

A number of people here are either assuming she’s lying, or that there’s a sense of entitlement; but let’s look at this from another perspective – from those who are donating the food so that it goes to those in need.

If this person is correct and the “high quality” items being donated are indeed not making its way onto the shelves and into the hands of those intended – then it’s the donators who are being cheated and stolen from. Their good-intentions are being robbed.

–As for something being wrong with this state – there are plenty of welfare cheats, no doubt about that. It is a system that isn’t working correctly. There are also many people who need to be on this system either temporarily or in the case of the some, permanently. They need to fix work/Welfare and weed their way through the cheats to reduce taxes and make the system work as intended.

Otherwise there are too many people taking advantage of it; as one grocery store owner mentioned about a person who comes in with $500+/month on their EBT – the system should provide “just enough” not make them overly comfortable so that it actually deters them from going to work where they’ll earn less than sitting on their ____ leaching off the tax-payer. Instead they play the system; work for the minimum required then go right back on welfare after getting “fired” on purpose.


sometimes being a volunteer at a pantry is a waste of time.
Some of these people do not deserve it. Like the ones who hop out of their SUVs to take food from the poor.
Then there is the “poor person” in front of you at the supermarket checkout line. She spends more than $300 with her footstamp card only to drive away in her Benz.
something is wrong in this state.


I agree with 86 Mets! At one point in my life, I was a food pantry client, simply because my PAYCHECKS were not enough for bills, medication and food. Thank God these places exist. Thank God for donors and volunteers alike. How dare this woman complain, hasn’t she ever heard the phrase, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”?

I wonder is she’s a citizen? I’m not against being the melting pot, but for some reason, it seems as though most people complaining about social services set-up for the needy aren’t citizens. Didn’t they want to come here? If it is so bad, I think they should go home to their native land and live off of the dole there.


Let me see if I got this right:

People donate food to the pantry and volunteers take time out of their busy lives to collect and distribute the food, yet this woman feels like she has been cheated somehow.

I’d say that the entitlement mentality in the country has gotten out of control over the last few decades but then I’d probably be called a rich, right-wing republican who hates poor people and I certainly don’t want that to happen. Especially since I’m not rich, right-wing, nor republican.

A leary reader

Sorry, having been a recipient of Woodside Herald misinformation caused because the paper does not vet and will print anything it gets before hearing the “other side,” I don’t read or believe anything I hear that has the paper’s name attached. The two articles written against us were so hateful, we were never contacted to discover if the allegations were true, and we were put in an awkward position because of it. To write something so damning about a church that has aided it’s community for so many years and not checking the church’s side of the story before printing the negative letter only confirms that the Woodside Herald is a gossip rag that has, through the years, put a poor light on many good people and organizations and is a blight on the community.


Maybe God took the food !

what? ridiculous statement? more so that saying God needed another angel when a baby dies of cancer and he does nothing to save it?


Friends, Romans, Countrymen

Maybe i’m old-fashioned but when someone’s giving you something for free, it’s not good manners to complain. Does Magda have any specific examples of “quality food” that was not made available? What is her definition of “quality food” BTW? Is someone donating caviar and smoked salmon that is going AWOL?

When you’re truly needy and hungry, a can of store brand beans and a bag of rice are quality food.

Friends, Romans, Sunnysiders

Richard O’Connor is a good man. If he’s involved with something, it’s totally trustworthy as far as I’m concerned.


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