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Roosevelt Island Neighbors Fight Hunger at the Free Food Pantry


The coronavirus slammed families across the spectrum, but the Roosevelt Island Free Food Pantry pushes back each Friday. Hunger’s given less of a toehold because our neighbors find a way.

By David Stone

Roosevelt Island News

Hunger Meets Its Match

Roosevelt Island Free Food Pantry
Volunteer Mary Coleman guides shopper at the Roosevelt Island Free Food Pantry.

Untangling the chaos immediately following the early onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, local groups scrambled to compensate for losses. That is, losses of jobs, income, available food and moral support.

Chief among them, the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association (RIDA), under Wendy Hersh, and the Carter Burden Network converted the Senior Center into a Free Food Pantry.

It operates for two and a half hours, every Friday.

Social distancing and face coverings are enforced. RIOC’s Public Safety Department regulates lines coming in to prevent overcrowding.
RI/CBN Senior Center director Lisa Fernandez administers health checks at entry point.

Health checks are mandatory, but community services also means free masks and helpful brochures.

Roosevelt Island Free Food Pantry
While there’s plenty of healthy food, snacks matter too, because simple pleasures matter.
The main room is well-stocked with a variety of offerings.

The crisis deepened through the summer, but RIDA, CBN and volunteers kept at it.

Because Queens-based 9 Million Reasons gathers food for all and shares, Roosevelt Island is less hungry.

Tradition served. Stacks of red sauce await, and there is pasta ahead.
Roosevelt Island Free Food Pantry
Because great sauce needs a good home, pasta is plentiful.

More fresh variety at the Roosevelt Island Food Pantry

Fried, mashed or sizzled, rich foods from the ground are comforting musts.
Neighbors wait for numbers to be called at the Roosevelt Island Free Food Pantry because demand requires a system. PSD’s aid has kept things calm for months.

Residents in need get numbers earlier in the day, and then, they wait outside the senior center. Demand is high with 160+ families helped every week, but fair weather helps.

Once inside, folks line up for a health check, masks if needed and, of course, food.
Roosevelt Island Free Food Pantry
Casual foods become luxuries when supplies suddenly run short.
Free Food Pantry, Dried Beans, Peas
Creative cooks find ingredients they need, like dried beans.
Fresh fruit because variety fills out a healthy diet.

Roosevelt Island’s Free Food Pantry gets a week off…

With Thanksgiving coming up next week, the free food pantry takes a rare week off, but they’ll be back, first Friday in December.

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