Local church setting up food pantry in Canarsie

One local house of worship is hoping to help residents of Canarsie who are in need.

The Christian Church of Canarsie, at 606 East 89th Street, is currently in the process of setting up a food pantry that area residents who have fallen on hard times can tap into to help feed their families.

The Reverend Francis Nicholson, the church’s leader, told this paper that he has been assured of some supplies – enough to distribute to 100 people once a month – from a Brownsville church, the Helping Hands Ministry.

But, he is viewing that as just the beginning, and has begun outreach to local businesses, residents and elected officials to augment the pantry’s stocks – specifically of healthful foods such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, because, as he noted, “One of the things affecting the community in Canarsie is obesity.”

To that end, Nicholson attended the most recent meeting of the Friends United Block Association (FUBA), at Temple Shaare Emeth, 6012 Farragut Road, where he spoke briefly about the church’s project, which he expects to kick off on the last Saturday in February. Congregants have also been distributing flyers to let area residents know about the project.

The need is great. Based on research he did, Nicholson said that 14 percent of Canarsie’s residents are at the poverty level. “A lot of people are out of jobs, so we are trying to do what we can to alleviate stress in the community,” he noted.

Nicholson also told this paper that congregants have been busy at work setting up the space for the food pantry, as well as compiling a list of people in need who could be served by it, a list that is already up to 250 people.

“The need exceeds the resources, which is why we are still looking for help from outside,” he explained.

Nicholson doesn’t view the food pantry as a single-pronged effort. Rather, he said, he is collecting clothes and toys for the needy, and he also wants to offer both medical testing (for such conditions as high blood pressure and AIDS) and counseling for teens who have dropped out of school, to try to get them to resume their education. He also “wants to address drug and alcohol problems. I personally will be dealing with that, counseling people.”

Nicholson said he doesn’t think the focus on Haiti, and the needs of that devastated country, will mean that fewer people will be interested in contributing to the church’s local food pantry.

“Although what’s happening in Haiti is on the front page, we still can’t forget our own,” he remarked.

And, while his congregation is putting heart and soul into creating a local resource, they haven’t forgotten Haiti either, Nicholson said, noting that a collection had been taken up at the most recent service, with each attendee asked to contribute at least $10 to relief efforts there.

People interested in contributing to the church’s food pantry can contact Nicholson at 347-742-7651. Checks can be made out to the Christian Church of Canarsie, which is a registered not-for-profit organization, and mailed to the church at 606 East 89th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11236