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Flushing food drive gets lift

Volunteers fill bags with donated food items for Macedonia AME's food bank. Photo by Rich Bockmann
TimesLedger Newspapers

A Flushing church is getting a little help from some of its neighbors to the northeast when it comes to feeding the city’s less fortunate.

Within the last week, the Community Church of Little Neck and the newly opened Douglaston Fairway donated a few hundred pounds of food to Macedonia AME Church, where every Wednesday hundreds of people line up around the block to receive some much-needed sustenance.

Catherine Williams, coordinator of Macedonia’s food bank, said the church, at 37-22 Union St., normally receives donations through organizations such as City Harvest and the Food Bank of New York City, but when City Harvest asked her if she could pick the food up herself, she drove the church’s van in the direction of the Queens-Nassau border and loaded it up with more than 600 pounds of food.

Joan Toth, secretary at the Community Church of Little Neck, said she calls Williams every time the church’s canned food drive collects 100 pounds worth of chow.

“We used to do it with City Harvest, but it’s getting harder for them to come out here,” she said, adding that the church’s parish has collected about 450 pounds of food for Macedonia since August. “They feel that they’re really helping out.”

A few days after picking up the contributions in Little Neck, Williams drove to the new Fairway, which she said donated about 500 pounds of foodstuff.

“What happened is that they were telling me, ‘If you don’t give it away, we have to throw it away,’” she said.

The BJ’s Wholesale Club in College Point and PS 165 in Kew Gardens Hills also made donations to help feed the nearly 400 people Williams said show up between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. every week.

“The way things happened lately with the economy, more people are losing their jobs,” she said. “We try to give them four, five or six cans of something fresh.”

According to a U.S. Census Bureau survey, in 2010 15 percent of Queens residents were living below the federal poverty level, up from 13 percent the previous year.

On Tuesday, Barbara Billups and Janice Devonish and a handful of volunteers packed up cans of sliced peaches and minestrone soup, rice, banana nut bars and canned chicken into individual plastic bags.

Williams said most of the people who show up for the food bank and the soup kitchen that the church operates on Sundays live within walking distance and are mostly Asian, Hispanic and black, many of whom are seniors who often have to choose between paying for their medications or food.

She said she even coordinates special pick-ups for people who call from Manhattan requesting food so that they do not have to wait in line.

“We see the same faces from week to week, and every week there’s one or two more,” she said. “Because of the change and the situation with money, people are not getting as much. People are losing their jobs and the food pantry really is a life-saver for a lot of people.”

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

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