MANHATTAN — Rahman Turner knows how lucky he is to be able to lend the Bowery Mission a helping hand in preparation for its annual Thanksgiving Day feast in Lower Manhattan – far from his own wife and children in Piscataway, New Jersey.
“I miss home, but I know it’s good for me to be here,” said Turner.
Rahman is a former business owner who lost everything to alcohol addiction and is now on a mission of recovery – with help.
And Rahman is not alone.
On this “Day of Thanks”, hundreds of people who will enjoy a hot meal served at the Bowery Mission.
“We wonder some days, what am I going to cook today?” said volunteer Pauline Bethel.
With a busy kitchen, a packed dining hall, and a line around the corner, it should not surprise you that the Bowery Mission and food pantries across the city are all now laser focused on the upcoming negotiations in Washington – over the next farm bill, which is renewed every five years.
Food Bank of New York City Vice President of Research Triada Stampas warns the massive farm bill also includes funding for SNAP – informally known as food stamps - and for food pantries, which directly affects what’s left on the shelves - especially when donations slow down after Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“We need to take the lessons from our past and learn that what happens when congress makes tradeoffs and compromises on the resources, that poor people rely on for food – and let’s be clear – that’s a survival resource,” said Stampas.
The reality is that the Bowery Mission and other non-profits cannot rely alone on the kindness of friends and strangers.
“It’s a blessing to have a safe place to be – and a warm meal. And it’s really tough times for a lot of people,” said Rahman Turner.
Bowery Mission officials say the need isn’t going away. They estimate served 1,800 meals,at this location alone and 8000 across the city.