People We Help
Client Photo Collage


Client Stories

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          * All names have been changed to ensure privacy.


James Reynolds

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.



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.


Demographics:  Visitors to New York Common Pantry 2013:

28%African American30%Female66%Adult
3%Asian70%Male22%Children
3%Caucasian  12%Seniors
65%Hispanic