Hunger is a problem in Brooklyn that’s only getting bigger, according to the executive director of a local food pantry, which just held its annual Walk against Hunger on Saturday, October 15 to help draw attention to the plight of so many borough residents.
“It was our eighth annual Walk Against and Support of Hunger,” said Tom Neve, who founded Reaching-Out Community Services some 25 years ago to help members of the community who were struggling.
“We like to share the silent shame of the hunger happening throughout our communities in Brooklyn,” Neve stressed. “It brings awareness. We give out flyers in the street sharing what services we provide to financial disadvantaged families.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the last year,” he went on. “I think the biggest challenge is, by the time they pay the rent, there’s no income left.”
Currently, said Neve, “There are more than 7,600 families registered with us. It seems it increases every year,” he reiterated. “It never decreases.”
While some no longer use the services provided by Reaching-Out, others have relied on them for years, Neve said. “They have no choice. It’s either this or shoplift,” he added.
Over 300 people participated in the No More Hunger event, which began with the walk, which left from Reaching-Out’s headquarters on New Utrecht Avenue between 77th and 78th Streets, and returned there.
But, this year, the walk was only the first part of the day. Afterwards, Reaching-Out had rides, pumpkin painting, vendors and food on its block, which was closed to traffic, and debuted its first annual Brooklyn’s Got Talent competition – sponsored by Ralph Succar and Empire State Development LLC — whose winner snagged $500 for his rendition of “I Believe I Can Fly.”
Neve doesn’t know yet how much money the day’s activities netted the not-for-profit group. Whatever it is will not cover the costs associated with the annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, however.
“It’s always a constant push,” he told this paper. “For the holiday season, we don’t have funding. We’re asking for help. If our pleas fall on deaf ears, then there will be families that won’t receive what they normally receive on Thanksgiving.”
The timeline is tight, he added. “We’re trying to secure support, but if we don’t get it within the next three weeks, where we normally give out 400 to 500 turkeys and trimmings, that’s going to be cut in two.”
For further information on Reaching Out or on contributing, call 718-373-4565.