Catholic Charities:

Emergency Food Pop-Ups in Brooklyn and Queens help thousands in pandemic epicenter

In response to the coronavirus outbreak, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens has been organizing what it calls emergency Pop-Up Food Distributions. It’s a concrete way to help the most vulnerable populations in two of New York City’s five boroughs. Now those most affected by the pandemic include the poor, the unemployed, the elderly and undocumented immigrants.

MSGR. ALFRED LOPINTO, President and CEO, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens
“So the situation here is pretty desperate. Out of the entire population of the city that’s been affected—around 200,000—better than 50—probably 60—percent of those people live here, in Brooklyn and Queens.”

In the days leading up to their Friday Pop-Ups, volunteers help prepare thousands of food packages, each with enough to provide three meals a day for three days for a family of three. The bags, containing both staples and fresh produce, are distributed at various parish sites in both boroughs.

RICHARD SLIZESKI, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens
“Pope Francis has [said the] Church should be a field hospital. If you come to our events, you would see something that looks like a field hospital.”  They’re lively “field hospitals” however, with music playing as energetic volunteers help their neighbors, undeterred by the crisis.

DEBBIE HAMPSON, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens

“They are directly working with the community, so they themselves are at risk, as well as myself, but I think we don’t think of that.  We think, you know, ‘It’s God’s work, our hands.’ We’re doing what we’re meant to do, and you know, that’s why we do it.”

MSGR. ALFRED LOPINTO President and CEO, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens

“So you do see, as I say, goodness coming out of people, in the sense that [there’s the] realization that we are interconnected. We are, in a sense, part of a larger community, and we need to care for that community, and we need to care for the people within that community, our brothers and sisters. We’re getting a greater sense of that.”

Hot meals are also delivered every day to the organization’s 31 senior housing buildings, which, together, serve approximately 3,000 residents.

The hope is that this sense of community and interconnectedness, which has shaken so many to action, will persist even beyond this tumultuous time.