Sad to hear about. But proud of their past work...Bronx food pantries run by Muslim Women’s Initiative will close as funding vanishes, demand rises
Food pantries in Highbridge and Parkchester closing Dec. 31
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Nurah Ama’tullah, left, Executive Director, Muslim Women's Institute for Research and Development, and her intern, Sarah Abdullah.
A community group that feeds more than 10,000 people in the Bronx through two food pantries plans to shut its doors at the end of the year.
The Muslim Women’s Initiative for Research and Development has been distributing halal groceries to needy Bronxites since 1997. The tough economy has shrunk donoations at the same time that residents’ need is surging, says Executive Director Nurah Ama’tullah.
“When investments took a dive, the first thing they cut was philanthropic giving,” said Ama’tullah. Meanwhile, “The Bronx is the hungriest borough in the city.”
A 70% slump in donations and a more than 50% increase in demand for services this year has put the organization $48,000 in the hole, Ama’tullah said.
Unless a sudden flood of donations can bridge the gap, the food pantries in Highbridge and Parkchester will close on Dec. 31.
“This is very important for me,” said Antonia Cruz, 52, an out-of-work mother of five. “The food is very good. I don’t have public assistance. I hope they don’t close.”
The group’s five employees--Ama’tullah, three other administrators and a pantry manager--have been working without pay since Memorial Day, she said, adding that while volunteers help keep the pantries running, some issues have to be handled by paid staff.
“Every position that you need in a supermarket is required for a food pantry,” Ama’tullah said.
Triada Stampas, director of government relations and public education for The Food Bank for New York City, which supplies food to MWIRD, said the group is facing the same problem as many other pantries and soup kitchens citywide.
“Their operating expenses really became insupportable within their budget, which is a tragic situation, Stampas said. “They’ve been a really good partner that has met real needs in their community. We’re really sad to see them go.”
The New York Women’s Foundation’s support of the group will end this month after five years.
The Union Square Awards helped fund MWIRD in the past, but its spokesperson said they focus on emerging organizations and typically limit funding to 10 years.
Though U.S. Rep Jose Serrano earmarked $100,000 for the group in 2010, no federal dollars made it to MWIRD’s coffers, a Serrano spokesman confirmed.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/bronx/bronx-food-pantries-run-muslim-women-initiative-close-funding-vanishes-demand-rises-article-1.988325#ixzz1gCgp7XdF