While the Bay Ridge Center (BRC) serves as a well-rounded community hub for seniors trying to live an active, healthy lifestyle, the more than 40-year-old neighborhood organization has become known for feeding seniors in need – a group that is growing and in need of the community’s help.
With nearly 20 percent of Bay Ridge’s population taken up by those over the age of 60, the demand for food pantry services and meal deliveries is higher than ever. But, the program that serves those in need is itself in need.
Funded through grants provided by the New York City Department for the Aging and the New York State Office for Aging, BRC continues to provide meals for the elderly, even though its resources are scarce.
“What we found is that there is such a large population of older adults in Bay Ridge that are not food independent,” said Marianne Nicolosi, executive director of the Bay Ridge Center. “We serve a senior lunch program, which is for most people is the biggest meal of their day.
“We found that a lot of people are really doing without a lot all the time,” Nicolosi added. “I would say about 50 percent of people who come here now to the senior center are getting all three meals here. The organization is committed to keeping it up because if they need it, then they need it.”
In addition, through BRC’s ongoing initiatives, seniors living in Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Fort Hamilton have access to a “Brown Bag” program, in which lunches are distributed Monday through Friday; a Senior Nutrition Program which serves hot meals in-house throughout the week as well delivering meals to home-bound residents; and an all-day food pantry with monthly distribution of bags containing canned goods, fresh bread, meat and produce.
Doing all this comes at a cost. “We’re over budget,” Nicolosi said. “DFTA is trying to give as much as they can. They just upped the numbers for us so we can be paid for more of the number that we’re serving. They told us that, for some reason, the numbers are going up incredibly.”
According to Nicolosi, BRC’s goal is to continue providing these services and eventually, to expand and offer a supermarket-style Client Choice Food Pantry where recipients can select foods to meet their individual dietary needs.
“We’re trying to elevate everyone’s awareness,” said Nicolosi.
Nicolosi also mentioned things that the community can do to help. While the organization currently has a website, www.bayridgecenter.com, it does not have enough money to hire a “tech person” to maintain it or help install a “donate” section.
Nonetheless, raising money is key to the center being able to continue its mission. To that end, the center, 411 Ovington Avenue, is having a fundraiser and raffle with a $10,000 prize, with tickets now on sale. There are 200 raffle tickets available and the drawing will be held on June 5. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
For more information about how to help Bay Ridge seniors, visit BRC’s website or call 718-748-0650.