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Brannan delivers $162,500 check to food pantry

Councilmember Justin Brannan, who managed to secure $162,500 in city funding to help a Bensonhurst food pantry keep its doors open, recently paid a visit to the organization’s storefront headquarters so that he could present the check.

Brannan arrived at Reaching-Out Community Services at 7708 New Utrecht Ave. on July 29 with a giant facsimile of a $162,500 check, complete with his signature, and presented it to Tom Neve, the organization’s executive director.

Brannan had the allocation included in the city budget to enable Reaching-Out to continue serving residents of Brannan’s Council district. Brannan, a Democrat, represents Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and parts of Bensonhurst and Gravesend.

Neve, a retired city sanitation worker who founded Reaching-Out nearly 30 years ago, has been struggling in recent months to maintain the same level of service to families in need that has made his organization a mainstay in Brooklyn.

But Reaching-Out subsists largely on grants and government funding, and barely has enough money to continue assisting the families already on its roster, according to Neve.

A lack of funding forced the executive director to stop accepting new clients from 11 of the 16 ZIP code areas Reaching-Out currently serves.

The funding from Brannan will help a great deal, Neve told clients who were at Reaching-Out’s headquarters when the lawmaker arrived to present the check

“I’m very thankful to our councilman, Justin Brannan,” Neve said in remarks that were captured in a YouTube video. “We are not able to handle all of the people who come here. He gave us $162,500 to keep the doors open in this place. Nobody is going to be cut off. He has shown us that we are not going to have an issue.”

Neve, who referred to Reaching-Out as “a place of hope,” operates a food pantry and offers assistance to families struggling to make ends meet. Reaching-Out conducts a Christmas toy drive and hosts a Back-to-School backpack giveaway each year.

Brannan said he wanted to help Reaching-Out because of the important work the organization does. He especially appreciates the respectful and dignified manner with which the organization’s volunteers treat the clients, he said.

“Many don’t realize just how many people in our community don’t know where their next meal is coming from. There should not be any shame. Many of us could be one paycheck away from being in the same spot,” Brannan said.

“We’re all in this together,” he added.

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