UWS NYCHA development starts food pantry to feed those in need


UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan — Many throughout New York have struggled with food insecurity since the start of the coronavirus pandemic and one Manhattan New York City Housing Authority development created a food pantry to make sure they have a consistent source of food for residents in need.  

Lines for food keep getting longer each week at the Douglass Houses on the Upper West Side.  Now, resident leaders are coming up with a permanent solution to help families in need who live there. Angela Ortiz, 75, is just one of hundreds of people who’ve waited for food.

Douglass Houses Tenant President Carmen Quinones said that since the pandemic started, she’s been fighting a hunger crisis in her backyard. Quinones joined forces with NY common pantry and City Harvest to give out 17,000 pounds of food each month.

“Since March, the line has gotten much longer.  It started at 500, now we have a thousand people,” said Quionones.  

When a high schooler working with a nonprofit suggested Douglass Houses host a community fridge, Quinones helped to make it a reality. But it still wasn’t enough. So now she’s converted her basement office on Columbus Avenue near 101st Street into a food pantry. Volunteer Michael Walker and other helpers have an assembly line inside, putting together boxes of juice, cereals and dry foods to give away.  The second Tuesday and Wednesday every month, it’s is all about feeding seniors.  

Ruth Mackins who was raised at the Douglass Houses, comes back each week to help give out food.  

If you want to contact the Ujamaa community fridge team, reach out on Instagram or by phone at (646) 580-3579.

If you want to help keep the food pantry filled at the Douglass Houses, reach out to Carmen Quionones on Instagram.

This story was updated on March 29, 2021 with new contact information for Ujamaa fridge team and a clarification on the fridge’s origin.

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