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Highbridge food pantry finds a new home

After a dispute that resulted in the relocation of the Community Food Pantry at Highbridge, the pantry continues to meet the increasing demand during these troubling times.

In October of 2008, the building owners of the 1362 Merriam Avenue, Highbridge Community Housing Development Fund Corporation, and executive director of Highbridge Voices, Bruno Casolri, pursued legal action to have the pantry removed form the premises.

“They presented me with a letter requesting we move by November,” said Nurah Amat’ullah, executive director for the Muslims Women’s Institute for Research and Development and director of the food pantry.

After a long legal dispute, the parties reached a negotiated settlement, which would remove the pantry with a small monetary compensation for the inconvenience.

On Saturday, March 7 the pantry vacated the 450 square foot location in exchange for a 200 square foot spot in the Highbridge Community Church, located 1272 Ogden Avenue.

“We are a community church and we wanted to continue to provide a very needed service to our community,” said Cora Taitt, assistant pastor at Highbridge Community Church. “We were able to see the pantry in action before and saw how well they were servicing the community and we wanted to step in and help them continue that service.”

Though grateful for the church’s generosity, Amat’ullah is concerned that the smaller space will hinder their ability to serve the needy, remarking that since November 1, 2008 there has been a 25% demand increase. From approximately 3,000 persons per month, the pantry now services for about 4,000.

“The space in smaller and we are being responsive to the greater demand, but we try to manage and the church has a large front yard so the clients have room on the property.”

The pantry operates on Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and on Wednesday afternoons from 4 to 6 p.m. Every other Friday, the pantry provides a Backpack Program, supplying nutritional information to school children and sending them home with a weekend meal package.

For more information visit www.mwird.org.

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