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BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Jaime DeJesus
BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Jaime DeJesus
Volunteers for Reaching-Out Community Services during one of its Thanksgiving food drives.

Even though it could not put together a gala this year, due to construction on its food pantry, Reaching-Out Community Services is currently running a 50/50 raffle to raise funds for its varied programs that help Brooklynites in need.

“Hunger is not going to go away,” said founder and Executive Director Tom Neve. “If we cease to exist, it will force a lot of people to make unfavorable decisions of how to get through the day.”

It’s donations that make so much of the work the organization does possible. For instance, the program was recently able to renovate its basement stockroom area through funding from the NYC Food Assistance Collaborative and the Helmsley Charitable Trust.

“When they did come to visit us, they obviously noticed the stockroom in the basement … was disorganized and dysfunctional,” said Neve, speaking of a need for better shelving and conveyors. “They were willing to redo the basement to operate intelligently and operate more effectively.”

The organization is the only one of its kind to go digital in New York City. In the past, people would enter the stockroom and pick their food off of the shelves, a process that “took forever.” Now, the program has its users digitally pick their food from a kiosk outside of the storeroom, to be collected and given to them in a more time efficient manner. The process is akin to going to a grocery store, and allows for clients to have more dignity in their manner of food selection.

Besides its food pantry, the organization hosts a litany of other services that all compliment its main mission to combat food insecurity, such as helping clients apply for food stamps, tax assistance and driving a bus that provides food to the homeless.

Neve’s hope is for the organization to continue serving the community into the future.

“Many people in our communities and surrounding communities don’t understand that people are struggling,” he said, hoping that many people will one day recognize that there are neighbors living around them with food insecurity. “We can do without a park bench or a baseball team, but we can’t do without a proper nutritional meal.”

Reaching-Out began out of the back of a van in 1989, when Neve formed a homeless mobile outreach program that provided hot meals, clothing, health aids and referrals to shelters. His program grew, and in the next year, the organization moved into a small storefront space. When that grew too small, he moved to a new space in 1993, and then again in 2007 to 7708 New Utrecht Avenue. Currently, Reaching-Out Community Services has over 9,200 people registered for its services in 16 different zip codes across Brooklyn.

In total, 100 tickets will be sold for the 50/50, at $100 a piece, with the winner taking home $5,000. Tickets can be purchased through Tomneve@rcsprograms.org. The drawing will be held on May 25. For more info, call 917-509-9055.

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