Catholic Charities is now making it easier to serve hungry Bronxites.
The organization opened on June 23 a new food hub at its South Bronx Community Center, located at 402 E. 152nd Street.
The hub will serve as a warehouse type-location at which fresh produce and other food will be delivered.
From there Catholic Charities will distribute the produce to soup kitchens and other smaller operations in their organization that help feed residents who need food.
“For nearly 100 years, Catholic Charities of New York has been feeding the hungry,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities. “We are establishing this new food hub in the Bronx to continue to help hungry individuals and families of all religions throughout New York City. Critically important is the hope that these families achieve greater independence in their lives. Through the professional support Catholic Charities will provide.”
Planning for the food hub began in 2015, according to Dianne Johnson, division director of community outreach service for Catholic Charities.
Johnson said members of the organization noticed a lack of fresh produce available at the smaller operations and wondered how they could provide that produce.
She said the group had to come up with a way to use space Catholic Charities already owned - but was under utilized - to provide the necessary service to the community.
According to Johnson, for many of the smaller operations produce shipments are too large.
She said if the shipment is too big - and the soup kitchen can’t take the food - then that food is taken back.
Johnson said the new food hub will act like a warehouse.
The hub will be able to hold large shipments of food from which Catholic Charities can distribute the right amount to the various operations.
Johnson said Catholic Charities currently has a Ford Transit and is working on getting a box truck to make distribution easier.
Catholic Charities is also providing food to non-Catholic operations including a few Protestant locations and a mosque.
In addition to the food hub, Catholic Charities also opened a new Client Choice food pantry.
The pantry allows families in need to hand pick their groceries like they are at a supermarket.
Johnson said this is “more empowering and liberating” for those who visit the pantry.
The Client Choice pantry opens on Thursdays at 10 a.m., Thursdays at 5 p.m. for working families and Fridays at 10 a.m.
Catholic Charities has partnered with Goya Foods to bring approximately 30,000 pounds of food to the hub each month. Goya has committed to providing a total of 300,000 pounds of food for the year.
“Goya is proud to partner with Catholic Charities of New York and support the mission of its new Food Distribution Center,” said Bob Unanue, president of Goya Foods. “We are eager to work closely together in an effort to feed those who go without nutritious meals and to reassure that the center is fully equipped with enough healthy food each month.”
Catholic Charities is also working with City Harvest from which they expect to get another 30,000 pounds of food per month.