Longwood pantry provides food and diapers for families in need during COVID-19

A mom receiving food from the HopeLine
Photo courtesy of The HopeLine

A nonprofit in Longwood is serving as a lifeline for families  in south Bronx who are in need of food and diapers during the COVID crisis.

Founded in 1990, The HopeLine Resource Center for Community Development at 884 East 163rd St., provides food, diapers, SNAP and tax services. Executive Director Maria Cintron told the Bronx Times, they have handed out 30,000 diapers and about 35,000 pounds of food since the COVID epidemic began.

“Everybody is really grateful and it feels really good to help them,” she said.

Cintron explained they had to change the model of how things run when the virus arrived. Normally people make an appointment, come in, pick out their food and chat while their kids watched cartoons. Now due to COVID, they make appointments Monday and come for their food and or diapers Tuesday and Wednesday.

Also, because of social distancing and the increase in demand for food, she and her staff make up boxes of food for each family that comes in. As per the new policy, only one person can come in at a time and they can only come once a month.

It used to be a personable experience when people came to the pantry, she said. Now people just come for what they need and leave.

 

But with only a few volunteers and a small staff, they have their hands full. The line to get food and diapers starts early in the morning, she said.

“It’s been pretty crazy,” Cintron commented. “We had to reshape the facility.”

The past two months have been a whirlwind for Cintron. She came back from maternity leave in March and COVID fell right in her lap. They adapted, but with only 1,200 square feet in their space, two refrigerators and offices, they are at capacity.

There was one recent family that stood out to Cintron. Before the coronavirus arrived a mother came with three kids without an appointment and told them she just moved to a shelter. She then revealed there were two more children at home and they were all starving. The staff immediately gave them food.

“It’s moments like those that make you humble,” she said. “I just love to know that I’m giving food to someone that will be satisfied for a few meals.”

Cintron, 40, has been with the organization for seven years and in 2015, added the diaper pantry. She explained that this has been huge for residents, as many people don’t have big box stores near them or can afford to travel to one. So they can go to a bodega where disapers are limited and expensive or come to Hope.

Since 2015 they have given away 600,000 diapers and 175,000 last year. She is glad to make a difference in so many lives.

“The diaper program I’m proud of because it’s a unique program,” she said. “We’re the first in the Bronx to open a diaper donation program.”

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