Monday, November 5–Masbia, a network of three soup kitchens in New York City, had planned to weather the storm by being closed last Monday and Tuesday. But after receiving an urgent plea from Councilman Brad Lander on Tuesday morning, when he reported that over 500 seniors from various institutions throughout the city were to be evacuated to the Park Slope Armory without any fresh food available to them (the army-grade food rations are high in sodium and preservatives), Masbia cooked up a storm of its own.
While the seniors were arriving in wheelchairs and on stretchers, Masbia delivered 200 lunches and 400 dinners. Even after dinner, busloads of seniors were still coming in Tuesday night; for Wednesday they would need 600 meals. Masbia, a grassroots organization that is struggling all year round for its survival, usually serves 500 meals a day out of three locations. Doing double that was a financial challenge. Continuing to supply the needs of so many evacuees quickly became a huge financial burden on the already cash-strapped charity. After an initial attempt to enlist the government to help provide healthy meals for the frail seniors, the executive director of Masbia and Councilman Brad Lander plotted to gamble on the humanity of fellow Americans and decided to send out a special appeal to the public to donate at Masbia’s website. And Masbia will continue providing food to hundreds of seniors in the Armory.
Transforming Masbia’s operation from restaurant-style dinners to airline-type meals was a difficult task. It was made possible only by the hundreds of volunteers who worked for long hours to help their neighbors in a trying time. The first day, Tuesday, most of Masbia’s staff were stuck at home with their families without electricity or transportation to come to work. Local volunteers were the only way to make it happen. Volunteers from a local group known as Chaverim were a big help on day one.
As the appeal for financial support was making its way through the social media echo chamber, other communities in need reached out for assistance as well. For a few nights in a row, Masbia sent 85 meals to those evacuated to FDR High School per the request of Councilman David Greenfield. Masbia also started sending hundreds of meals to the command post of the Shomrim patrol in Sea Gate. On Friday, Masbia delivered a truckload full of relief supplies and food to four distribution points in the Coney Island neighborhood with Councilman Domenic Recchia. All this was made possible through the extraordinary charity of those who donated and made necessary funds available to procure food and supplies to relieve those suffering from the disaster.
On Sunday, the Public Advocate’s Office sent two teams of volunteers to help with the cooking, and City Comptroller John Liu himself showed up on Thursday to volunteer. Every day the meal count keeps rising, with requests coming from all corners of the city.
Masbia hopes to be able not to refuse any neighborhood that asks for help, but this is dependent on the constant flow of donations from the public. This Sunday, November 4, Masbia served in one day the amount they usually serve in one week. Vendors had to do weekend deliveries to help keep Masbia’s supply of protein adequate.
For only $6, you can donate a hot dinner to a hurricane victim. Please go to www.masbia.org, or for a quick $10 donation text “SOUP” to 20222.
Masbia of Flatbush is located at 1372 Coney Island Avenue (between Avenues J and K), Brooklyn, NY 11230. The phone number is 718-972-4446. v