Brooklyn, NY – A large delegation of City Council members volunteered on Monday their time and energy at Masbia soup kitchen on Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn in order to witness firsthand the plight of New York’s unfortunate and the effect that the current state of the economy has on real people. The site on Coney Island Avenue opened in November 2009 as part of the UJA, Met Council and MASBIA response to the economic crises. It is one of three soup kitchens they opened during the recession.
Among the City Council members who came to Masbia today were Councilmember Domenic Recchia, Councilmember David Greenfield, Councilmember Jumaane Williams, Councilmember Brad Lander, Councilmember Mike Nelson, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Others in attendance included Rabbi David Cohen and Ilene Marcus from Met Council, Joel Berg, executive director of New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH), Bob Lewis from NYS Dept of Agriculture and Markets, Alyssa Herman, VP of Fund Development from FoodBank NYC, and Leslie Gordon, senior director of agency relations at City Harvest and Rabbi Yechezkel Pikus of COJO of Flatbush.
This high-profile volunteer event preceded a NYC Council joint oversight hearing on fighting hunger in New York City, scheduled for later in the afternoon. Masbia is a prime location for this delegation from the City Council to visit and lend a helping hand, due to its mission of feeding as many people in need as possible with meals that are nutritious and complete.
Councilmember David Greenfield introduced Masbia and the work that they do to the rest of the City Council delegation. Being familiar with Masbia’s operations given the fact that Masbia’s central kitchen lies in his district, Greenfield pointed out the fact that this past year, Masbia saw almost a 300 percent increase in meals served to those in need. Masbia serves 500 hot dinners every day, five nights a week through its four sites across New York. Masbia also distributes several hundreds of take-home weekend packages a week through its food pantry program.
“I am proud to be here volunteering at a place like Masbia,” Speaker Quinn announced to the press present at the event. “Masbia works on the model of serving people with dignity, and more social services need to adopt this model as the best model.” Councilmember Brad Lander also spoke on this issue of dignity, praising Masbia for its open-door and no-means-testing policy. He positively commented on the diversity of people eating at Masbia’s tables.
During this special volunteer event with the City Council delegation, the United Food & Commercial Workers Union (UFCW) made a wonderful donation of 50 kosher turkeys to Masbia for its Thanksgiving food distribution, at Speaker Quinn’s request.
Masbia soup kitchen network started as a grassroots charity to feed the hungry. Masbia operates a total of 4 sites throughout Brooklyn and Queens. In the past fiscal year alone, Masbia served 165,817 meals made possible by our affiliate Met Council and our 15,000 unique private donors from all over New York, which means thousands of people (many of them children) have gone to bed with food in their stomachs, full and content. Although Masbia’s past $2.1 million budget was almost entirely made up for by private donations, several key City Council members and the Speaker had allocated $94,000 of city funding to Masbia.