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As Demand Increases, East Harlem Pantry Uses High-Tech Gadgets to Help Feed Hungry

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TWC News: As Demand Increases, East Harlem Pantry Uses High-Tech Gadgets to Help Feed Hungry
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During the holiday season, we're encouraged to give to those in need in the spirit of the season, but the need doesn't go away just because holidays are over. Soup kitchens and pantries are busier than ever these days. Cheryl Wills takes a look at a high-tech pantry in East Harlem that spreads good cheer all around.

Tablets, printers and loads of volunteers keep New York Common Pantry running like clockwork on East 109th Street.

There is a science behind feeding the hungry at the East Harlem pantry.

Here's how it works.

Clients sit with volunteers and pick out the food that they want on an iPad. The organization's research showed that unwanted food was often wasted.

Then the client's specific request is beamed up to this room and printed out on labels.

That's where volunteers bag exactly what the client ordered. Officials say the need is tremendous due to the recent cuts in food stamps.

"SNAP benefits, formerly known as food stamps, were cut as of November 1, we seeing a rise in the number of people and that's only going to increase as more cuts happen,” said New York Common Pantry Executive Director Stephen Grimaldi.

"I can see every morning people on line to get their pantry, we have Project Dignity, we have Live Healthy programs and we have Help 365 programs, which help people 365 days a year,” said New York Common Pantry HR Manager Ralph Davis.

Volunteers from Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity were on hand on this frosty January day to help bag the groceries.

"Our motto is service to humanity, it's our 100th anniversary and we're loving it so we love to come out and give back to the community,” said volunteer Kevin Bracey.

New York Common Pantry has been serving the community out of its three-story building on East 109th Street for more than thirty years and they are always in need of volunteers.

To learn more, go to www.nycommonpantry.org or call 917-720-9700.

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