With demand for food assistance rising, CHiPS receives federal funding to expand mobile food pantry program

Community Help in Park Slope food pantry with federal grant check
Community Help in Park Slope (CHiPS) will expand their mobile food pantry program with new funding from U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Rep Dan Goldman

Community Help in Park Slope will soon be able to expand their mobile food pantry program, thanks to new federal funding secured by U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman.

Goldman on Thursday presented the organization with a $250,000 Community Project Funding Grant award, which passed as part of the most recent federal appropriations bill in March. The funding came just in time, as CHiPS is facing a massive increase in demand for food assistance, according to executive director Peter Endriss. 

Between its soup kitchen and food pantry, CHiPS serves more than 400 free meals a day – more than double the number of meals it was serving in 2023. The increased demand has been driven in part by the migrant crisis, as hundreds of people are living in shelters in the neighborhood. 

peter endriss at food pantry press conference
CHiPS executive director Peter Endriss said demand for food assistance has skyrocketed since last year.Photo courtesy of U.S. Rep Dan Goldman

Last year, to keep up with demand, the organization launched the mobile food pantry. At the beginning, the van made two deliveries a week — one at Gowanus Houses and one at P.S. 124. 

“This is going to be amazing for us, this is going to help us expand in pace with the expanding need we’re seeing,” Endriss said. “The need is real and keeps increasing month over month, and the mobile food pantry allows us to access folks that can’t make it to our brick and mortar, that are in food deserts.”

The organization plans to purchase a new refrigerated truck with the funding, Goldman said. A significant obstacle for the mobile food pantry has been keeping food from going bad in transit, which meant CHiPS couldn’t deliver too far away.

A refrigerated truck will solve that problem — and will allow the organization to more easily pick up donated food from all over the borough. About 80% of the meals served by CHiPS are prepared with ingredients donated by businesses and even local restaurants. 

CHiPS launches new PSA and Mobile Food Van
CHiPs launched their mobile food pantry last year. File photo courtesy of CHiPS/Instagram

At present, the mobile food pantry serves about 400 households — and about 2,000 people in total. The grant funding will “more than double” the number of people they can reach, Endriss said. 

Going forward, the mobile food pantry will make extra stops at local NYCHA complexes, schools, and community centers — distributing about 400 bags of food each week, with fresh and frozen produce and shelf-stable items. CHiPS also plans to hold cooking demonstrations using the ingredients included in the free bags. 

Karen McCreary, a member of the Gowanus Houses Tenant Association, said residents look forward to the mobile van’s visits every week. 

Tuesday is Taco Tuesday, she said, and their bags include cilantro, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese – all the necessary fixings.

“The kids come out, the adults come out, and the senior citizens come out, and they just say to me ‘Karen, I’m so glad that you’re here, and I’m so glad you brought CHiPS to us,” she said. “It’s all about the food, it’s all about the community, and it’s all about the love.”

dan goldman CHiPS
Goldman said he would continue to support the organization. Photo courtesy of U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman

At its Fourth Avenue headquarters, CHiPS distributes hundreds of bags of free food a week — including special pantry bags for migrants living in shelters, who only have access to a microwave for food preparation. 

“In the face of an increasing need for fresh, quality food, CHiPS has continued to step up to the plate and deliver for our community,” Goldman said in a statement. “I will continue to work alongside them to address food insecurity and ensure they have the resources they need to continue this great work.”