LOWER EAST SIDE — The Bowery Mission’s food pantry is in “urgent need” of donations, as its food supply has dwindled and demand for meals has increased, officials said.
Entire shelves at the 227 Bowery soup kitchen are completely bare and essential items like pasta, canned goods and condiments are in short supply, according to Assistant Director Matt Krivich.
“I’ve never seen our pantry quite this empty at this point in the season,” said Krivich, who has worked at the Bowery Mission for 11 years. The pantry is usually about half full at the end of September, but during a recent visit the shelves appeared only about a quarter full.
The organization regularly receives large donations from Whole Foods Market, City Harvest and the Food Bank for New York City, but individual donations seem to be down, Krivich said.
Usually, half a dozen organizations have reached out to the Bowery Mission by early fall to discuss organizing a holiday food or clothing drive for the nonprofit, but so far Krivich said he has only spoken to one group.
"I’m not sure if people are waiting until October to make those calls, but normally by this time of year I would’ve fielded a few phone calls by now," he said.
Meanwhile, the Bowery Mission — which provides daily meals for about a thousand people, as well as shelter, clothing and recovery services for the homeless — has seen demand for its services go up.
“Over the last five years, we’re seeing more and more new people and it’s new people every day, so it’s showing us that there’s an increased pressure in New York City,” Krivich said.
The average number of dinners served every day at the Mission has jumped more than 50 percent this year, from 215 per day in 2013 to 337 this year, Krivich said.
So far, the Mission has not had to turn away anyone looking for food, he said, but its cooks have been forced to find creative ways to make enough satisfying meals with the remaining food items — like using butter sauce on pasta instead of tomato sauce.
The organization has also dipped into the items it was planning to save for its annual Thanksgiving Day meals, which typically include canned green beans and sweet potatoes.
Despite the pantry’s difficulties, Krivich said he believes that donations will come in.
“I do have hope,” he said. “I know this will be filled soon.”
Donations of pasta, rice, condiments, pasta sauce, canned vegetables, beans and other food items can be dropped off at the Bowery Mission, 227 Bowery, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Monetary donations can also be made online.