Nearly one-third of food pantries in the five boroughs have already shut down as they struggle to feed the growing number of New Yorkers left jobless by the COVID-19 bug that has shuttered thousands of businesses.
The rest now face elimination unless the state approves a $25 million lifeline, according to nonprofits that provide food pantries.
“There is a tsunami of further needs that is coming,” David Greenfield, CEO of the Met Council, told The Post. “In most neighborhoods, you only have one food pantry. Once that food pantry is closed, it shutters that lifeline to all the needy people in the neighborhood.”
He said the pantries are dealing with a “triple whammy.”
The pantries said they are being forced to pay significantly higher prices for food as the demand for goods skyrockets — Greenfield said the cost of basics like eggs have gone up 180 percent.
Meanwhile, the pantries find themselves short-staffed, in some cases with more than half of pantry workers out sick. That has forced the charities to spend crucial dollars to buy protective gear for their remaining staff.
“People don’t have enough to pay bills, let alone put food on the table,” said Jilly Stephens, CEO of City Harvest. “Food is considered an elastic expense. People will seek out a food pantry, people who are doing everything right, have jobs, sending children to school.”
“On top of that, tens of thousands of New Yorkers are losing jobs very
“Food is essential,” she said. “When there’s no food it’s a significant problem for us — as individuals, as a community, as a city, a state, a country.”
Meanwhile, Greenfield said the coronavirus crisis has forced them to do more with dwindling resources, with the nonprofits pushing out 30 to 50 percent more food to meet the growing demand.
The call for help comes just days after City Council Speaker Corey Johnson called on Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to commit $50 million in emergency aid to the pantries — but it has yet to happen.
But even that, Greenfield said, would be just “a stop-gap measure.”
“It’s really just a life preserver until, hopefully, the cavalry comes,” he said.
“I’m like a guy who shows up in the ER and hopes the doctors are going to do the right thing,” Greenfield said. “I’m in the ER, we’ve shown up at the ER, we’re saying we’re dying over here, we need help. It’s up to the government to helps us
The state Senate has been pushing for funding for the pantries.
The Cuomo administration said, “Budget negotiations are ongoing,” when asked for comment.