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Queens Chronicle

Glendale food pantry recovers after lull

Social media activism helps restock Sacred Heart Church’s bare shelves

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Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:23 am, Thu Jul 10, 2014.

On Monday morning, Nancy Baer of Glendale’s Sacred Heart Church food pantry at 77-05 84 St. said just two boxes of pasta remained on the shelves.

Just a few hours later, there were enough boxes of pasta to feed a small Italian army.

“This all just got delivered,” Baer said. “It’s a very generous neighborhood. They’re good people.”

As the weather warmed this spring, the food pantry’s inventory shrunk. Just two weeks ago, Baer and Sister Margaret Raibaldi, the pantry’s operators, said the shelves were nearly barren.

But after staffers from the office of Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) spread the word of the pantry’s plight on Facebook in mid-June, Raibaldi and Baer said thanks to social media, they have been busy accepting dozens of food donations from generous area residents and businesses alike.

“We have a steady group of people that will drop stuff off and that’s great. Those people are wonderful to even be able to do that,” Raibaldi said. “But this way, we can reach out to much more. There was nothing here before, but people are responding.”

On average, Sacred Heart Church provides food and various household items like toiletries and cleaning supplies for 135 clients, including families, per month, a sharp increase from around 35 clients just 10 years ago.

While Raibaldi, who started the parish’s food pantry over 20 years ago, is grateful to those who have helped keep it afloat over the last two weeks, she hopes to see a more sustained flow of donations going forward.

“The thing is that it has to keep coming,” Raibaldi said. “It can’t be just a quick shot and then forgotten, and that happens a ton of times.”

During the holiday season and the following winter months, a Knights of Columbus food drive often keeps the pantry well-stocked, and drives by elected officials in the fall help keep the shelves full around Thanksgiving, but Baer said it’s the summer months when the pantry, and the families it feeds, are in need the most.

“You get these little lulls in the summer after the holidays when we start to get a little lean,” she said. “It ebbs and flows, but once the word gets out, people are really generous.”

The pantry also has a freezer for storing fresh fruits and vegetables, butter, bread and assorted meats.

“You can’t measure gratitude,” Baer said. “I’m grateful, for all the people being helped, that we’re able to meet a lot of needs.”

Anyone interested in donating food, school supplies or other household items to the Sacred Heart Church food pantry is more than welcome to do so, according to Baer and Raibaldi.

The items can be dropped off at the pantry’s office in the rear of the church at 77-05 84 St. Monday through Thursday from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.

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