As a young man James Reynolds
served in the U.S. military—but by the time he turned 65 he was
without a home or other resources. When Mr. Reynolds came to New York Common Pantry for help in August of 2013 he was interviewed
by our Case Manager, who also screened him through a resource eligibility calculator. Mr. Reynolds learned that he was eligible
to receive Veterans Benefits and other resources, but he needed a stable address where he could get his mail. This service was
set up for him through Project Dignity, and later Mr. Reynolds was escorted to the Social Security Office. There he learned that,
like many seniors, he was eligible for Social Security, and since that time he has been approved for benefits as a veteran of the armed services.
Crucially, he has also obtained housing. With these key supports Mr. Reynolds has a chance to live with a greater level of dignity and self-sufficiency.
, a 33 year old single mother with twin girls lives in a nearby shelter and works as
an advocate for the homeless. In the fall of 2013 she lost her income support. Hailey worked with a case manager to
navigate the process to restore it. Now receiving SNAP she balances her family's meals by visiting Choice Pantry and credits the
fresh fruit and vegetables she receives as a way to save money. Hailey and her daughters also visit to eat breakfast and dinner,
do their laundry, and meet with a medical doctor on-site. Hailey says she visits NYCP because "it is efficient and the friendly
staff are always looking to build connections and connect me to resources." In the fall Hailey and her daughters will participate
in Live Healthy! classes to learn how to make healthy meals.
, a 65 year old African American man with a long history in the work force and military service,
came to New York Common Pantry in August, 2013, lacking income and seeking assistance with basic living needs, like food through our Choice Pantry.
Horace was escorted to the Social Security office where was approved for benefits; later the case manager assisted him in securing Medicare
coverage, which he had been unable to access before. Finally, the case manager helped him access veteran's benefits due him for
his service in the military. Thus, in a short space of time, New York Common Pantry helped Horace access medical coverage and
benefits of over $1,200 a month.
No longer living with her husband, Andrea
, a 51 year-old woman, was not working and could not afford
to pay rent nor did she have food. A Help 365 case manager provided her with a grocery bag, and after screening signed her up to
be a Pantry member. After learning that she was eligible, Andrea was able to receive other resources including cash and rental
assistance, SNAP, and Medicaid. Now that she is able to pay her rent and has access to healthy food, Andrea is focused on finding
a job and becoming self-sufficient.
When he first came to New York Common Pantry, Morris
had been living with relatives but due to
circumstances beyond his control was no longer able to do so. He did not have his own home, employment, money or access to
sufficient food. After determining in an intake interview that Morris was eligible, a case manager provided him assistance
with emergency food and with applications for SNAP benefits, Medicaid, and for housing. After a few weeks, Morris was approved
for basic benefits, and came in again for information on jobs. Soon, only a few months after first joining the pantry, Morris
was working as a truck driver and is on the waiting list for an apartment.
was a part of New York City's workforce for many years. Born in Hell's Kitchen and a New Yorker all his life, Ricky says
he first went to work in his father's construction business, and later worked for both financial firms and newspapers. Ricky
has a small apartment near our building on 109th Street but little income at this point in his life. After he pays rent he has
little money left over for food, so he comes to New York Common Pantry for hot meals several times a week. Today we meet an
increasing number of seniors like Ricky, who've made their contribution to the city and now need our help.
has been coming to the Common Pantry for over 20 years. Street homeless for just over ten years, Mark has been a daily participant
of the Project Dignity program where he utilizes the soup kitchen, shower and laundry services. Mark has never been one to ask
for help but with persuasion from Common Pantry staff he began psychiatric treatment in January 2010 with the Project for Psychiatric Outreach to
the Homeless (PPOH).
While helping Mark work on his mental health issues, the Common Pantry also worked on his SSI application because his
sole source of income at the time was $68 in Public Assistance cash benefits and $200 in monthly food stamps. Project Dignity
case managers were able to secure SSI benefits on his behalf in June 2010 and he began receiving the SSI monthly benefit payments in August
During this time, he continued to live on the streets and parks of New York City and was still battling the constant
struggles with his mental health and substance abuse issues. These issues could not improve without stable housing, so Mark
acknowledged his struggles and began to work with Common Pantry case management and psychiatric services. With Mark’s new economic stability
he became focused on obtaining housing. In collaboration with the Goddard Riverside Street outreach team, the Common Pantry was able to get Mark
approved for a stabilization bed at the Harlem YMCA in January 2011. After many years of living on the streets Mark finally had a
safe place to sleep. While staying at the YMCA he continued to address the issues that interfered with stability: mental health
and substance abuse. Throughout this time Project Dignity staff continued to work on sending Mark’s housing package to various
housing agencies and in March 2011 he was accepted into the Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS) transitional housing called The Kelly.
At The Kelly, Mark continued to work on his sobriety and transition to a permanent housing setting until he was accepted into permanent housing
at the Ivan Shapiro Residence in October 2011.
Mark officially moved into his studio unit on October 18th, 2011 and continues to
come to the Common Pantry for support from case management staff and to utilize the soup kitchen services. Mark said, "The Common Pantry has saved my life in
so many ways. The case managers and staff have had a lasting impression on me, which is why I feel so comfortable here. It’s a wonderful place."
grew up in South Carolina but has been living in central Harlem for more than 40 years.
She still lives on the same street where she and her husband raised their family. Now that she is in her 70's
and is battling diabetes, she is very grateful to be a member of the Common Pantry's Pantry program and has been coming here for ten years.
Ollie was excited to learn about the Common Pantry's new Choice Pantry options and she is looking forward to ordering her custom pantry
package online via Pantry Direct, using the computers available at her neighborhood Senior Center. Her adult son
lives with Ollie, and together they appreciate the fresh produce and healthful food items that come in her pantry package,
now made to her order. Ollie recently learned that the Common Pantry's case managers can help her with non-food issues, as well,
like help with a tax refund and housing assistance through our program, Help 365. The Pantry makes a big difference
for Ollie's family and she is thankful.
Grace*, a 57 year old great-grandmother was preparing for retirement before she lost her job and came to the Common Pantry to receive
pantry and baby packages, complete with wipes, diapers, and food, for the two young great-grandsons in her care.
In September 2010, the Common Pantry assisted Grace to file papers and become a foster parent for her two great-grandsons.
Starting December 2010, Grace began receiving financial assistance for the care of her two great-grandsons.
Grace filed her taxes at the Common Pantry and continues to receive pantry and baby packages.
David*, a 43 year-old man who had been living in transitional housing received assistance from a Help 365 case manager to
apply for benefits. As a result, David was able to move into a new studio apartment on the Lower East Side.
Grateful to sleep in a clean, well-kept place he can call his own, David now receives rent assistance and Supplemental
Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) support from the Human Resources Administration. Now having a stable living
situation, David receives pantry food packages complete with fresh produce, and is excited to be cooking in his own apartment.
Information on Hunger
According to the Food Bank for New York City, there are 1.2 million people in New York City experiencing food hardship.
When compared with New York City, the statistics for East Harlem paint a dismal and urgent picture.
According to the 2009 American Community Survey released by the Census Bureau, the median household income for East Harlem families
was $30,674, 55% less than Manhattan’s median household income of $54,879.
NYC’s 2006 Community Health Report shows 38% of East Harlem residents live below the poverty line, nearly twice that of Manhattan
residents. In response to the high numbers of families living in or below the poverty line, the Common Pantry serves all of NYC with a
focus on East Harlem and Upper Manhattan.
Upper Manhattan and neighboring communities are 'food insecure.' Residents are unable to afford food basics, unable to
travel to the grocery store.
As a result, many suffer from diminished access to nutritious and healthy food. Often, residents shop at corner deli
markets or take out from pizza shops, doughnut stores, and fried-food restaurants that pepper their immediate neighborhood.
Residents are ill educated about the negative affects of these choices and consequently, find themselves with illness and
complications associated with food insecurity, obesity, and poor nutrition.