Community Help in Park Slope Struggles to Keep Up with Influx of Migrants

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Queens, NY

By Jessica Easthope

Lunch is served at Community Help in Park Slope, the Brooklyn staple has been a constant for those in need, but these days lines are longer and portions are smaller. They used to max out at 180 people-a-day, now CHiPS is feeding double.

“We want to make sure everyone gets a meal, we don’t want to turn anyone away, even after we’re closed we’re still giving out sandwiches,” said Pauline Auguste the director of food services.

Pauline sees everything, the line outside and the food inside and tries to keep up with both, but recently she says she seen human beings who have become the face of desperation in New York City.

“The first day they came we saw kids with no shoes, no jackets, there was a little boy who stuck his hand inside of his t shirt and I had to walk away because I got so teary eyed, they’re not from here but they’re human and it’s heart-wrenching to see these things,” she said.

There are more than 41,000 migrants, many don’t speak English, they can’t find legal work and are living out of hotels and emergency shelters with no place to cook.

“I have a passion for feeding hungry people but the demand is increasing, we’re kind of getting eaten out of house and home, we’re a very small kitchen and the demand is reaching our capacity,” said Matthew Caban the chef at CHiPS.

Matthew holds his food to a higher standard but he’s running out, trying to make quality meals from scraps. Still CHiPS is firm on a promise to the community no one will be turned away.

“It’s going to get to the point where I’m scraping the bottom of my fridge just to make a meal and I know we’re a soup kitchen but I don’t want to start serving soup every day, I try to make sure the food is of a certain quality and with the demand it’s starting to stress on that,” he said.

The pantry gets food from various city agencies, co-ops and private donations from residents and is spending nearly $1,000 a day on more food. Staff fear the day when everything runs out, and if the need stays at this pace – it won’t be long.

“We rely very heavily on our volunteers they have been very helpful but it’s depleting our funding because we’re utilizing more money to serve more people,” said Pauline.

“I’m a firm believer of treating others the way you want to be treated,” said Matthew. “Whatever I have I want to do, but it’s not enough, it’s not enough.”