By Claudie Benjamin

What will the pantry be serving tomorrow? Speaking about the Adventist Lutheran Church‘s weekly food pantry food distribution, Church Administrator Amanda Gray said, “Volunteers are cooking chili that will be served over macaroni for this Saturday’s community hot lunch.” Pre-Covid, community hot meals were served inside the church, which is located at 2504 Broadway. After the Covid period, with an enlarged number of people coming for meals, hot foods started being packed in bags for distribution. “It will be proteins and carbs, a good meal,” said Gray, describing the upcoming community hot lunch.

About 250 people, most of whom are immigrant women and children who are living in neighborhood hotels now managed by Health and Human Services (HHS), are expected each Saturday. The food is prepared and distributed by volunteers, some of whom are church members. Others who are not church members are also committed to helping.

Gray, who began working for the church almost a year ago, draws a lot of satisfaction from the success of the food pantry. She said the grocery collection and distribution is managed by Frankie Thompkins, who has been involved for the past 20 years or so.

“People, line up for food beginning at 10:30 am. Groceries are provided on the first and third Saturdays of the month. The community hot lunches overseen by Lauren Johnson. These are given out on the second and fourth Saturdays, from Noon to 1 pm, until the food runs out. Cold sandwiches are provided in months with a fifth Saturday.  Food is purchased by the food pantry with grant money. There can be surprises with food deliveries.  “Last week, we got nectarines,” said Gray. “It was kind of a surprise. We never get nectarines.” The church also manages drives for school supplies and clothing.  One held in mid-August was welcomed as the school year approached.

Gray came to NYC six years ago from Dallas. She worked many types of jobs before and after her arrival in this city. “I was a hospital clown. I worked for HR, I had jobs as an educator, a hairdresser, a dental assistant, and a CPR trainer. I worked as a dog walker and for a lice removal company.” She was then disabled by a painful medical condition – ulcerative colitis. After 3-1/2 years, the condition was in remission, and she welcomed the opportunity to work in an occupation that offered the rewards of community service. “The job sort of landed in my lap. I like being part of a team.”

If you are interested in volunteering at the Community Lunch, contact:

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