Skip To Content

Without state aid, kosher food pantries strained by coronavirus may close their doors

With resources strained by the COVID-19 crisis, almost a third of New York City’s food pantries have shut their doors, and more are expected to close if the state does not provide emergency funding, said leaders at the Met Council on Jewish Poverty and City Harvest, a food rescue organization that partners with many kosher food pantries.

“69 of the community food programs City Harvest serves have already closed and even more are in danger of closing,” said Jilly Stephens, CEO of City Harvest.

With unemployment skyrocketing as a result of the coronavirus crisis, food pantries expect to see higher levels of food insecurity among struggling New Yorkers. But many are currently unable to meet those needs. Because of panic buying and high demand for groceries, prices of food staples such as chicken, eggs, and meat have increased. Wholesalers and supermarkets are outbidding cash-strapped food pantries on crucial supplies.

With the state budget due on April 1, food pantries are calling for emergency funding from both city and state government. New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson asked the city to commit $25 million to the food pantry system and called on lawmakers in Albany to match that amount. Food pantry leaders say that an injection of funding is necessary to keep the city’s food pantries afloat.

“We could be only days away from the collapse of the food pantry system,” said David Greenfield, CEO of the Met Council. “The blunt truth is many may not last the week without help.”

Irene Connelly is an editorial fellow at the Forward. You can contact her at [email protected].

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.