St. John’s Bread & Life Remains Steadfast for Brooklyn Residents in Need Beyond the Pandemic

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, COVID, COVID Relief Bill, covid testing, COVID VACCINE, Faith, Food, Food Bank, food insecurity, Food Stamps, Inspiration, Media, Queens, NY, St. John's Bread & Life

By Jessica Easthope

Nearly a year and a half into the pandemic and the lines at St. John’s Bread & Life in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn still stretch the block. As people get back to normal and hope to leave the crisis behind them, Bread & Life is working overtime to make sure those in need are not forgotten.

“Food unites us and whether you’re 90 years old or 30 years old, we all have to eat,” said Sister Caroline Tweedy, the executive director. “And we see a need and really try to live out that Catholic social teaching of doing for the other.”

Over the last year, Bread & Life fed 77,000 people, handed out three-million meals and sustained food pantries in 24 other communities across Brooklyn.

“We never turn anyone away, which is what I’m proudest of,” Sister Caroline said. “We’ve never turned anyone away. Not everyone is called to work here, but everyone is called to do something.”

They’ve mastered the “bread” but what about the “life” part?  As the organization moves from crisis to recovery, the people who need Bread & Life for social services are also lining up.

“When they come to us, we’re going to fight 100 percent to get their benefits put in place,” said Mildred Gutierrez. She’s a senior case worker at Bread & Life. “It’s been hard on them, but they come here. We give them as much food as we can and as much help as we can and at the end of the day, they come out winning.”

St. John’s Bread & Life is a one-stop shop. They not only provide food, but also help with benefits, rent assistance and medical needs, hoping to enrich every aspect of life.

“Through your work and your clients, it makes a whole lot of difference. It makes your life worth living actually, helping others,” Mildred said.

The pandemic tested Bread & Life’s mission and challenged its staff. Yet, they proved no one was above pitching-in.

“The first time I saw Sister Marie pushing a pallet jack, I knew we’ve done it,” Sister Caroline said. “The first time I saw our security staff in there packing bags, this is what it’s all about. It’s teamwork because it could be any one of us on that line.”

The operation has tripled – and now there’s no turning back. St. John’s Bread & Life is ready for anything.