NEW YORK — Every Wednesday, the Church of the Epiphany on the Upper East Side serves a hot meal to anyone who needs one, in spite of the increase in food prices and a supply chain crunch.

What You Need To Know

  • Some kitchen and food pantry operators say higher prices and supply shortages make it difficult to provide for their communities

  • Janette Gautier, director of the Wednesday dinner service at the Church of the Epiphany, said she's had problems with food deliveries

  • Bishop Mitchell Taylor, a pastor who oversees the Bread of Life food pantry in Queens, said he's seeing higher prices for turkeys that he plans to give away for Thanksgiving

The program director, Janette Gautier, said she noticed hiccups in her orders.

“It hasn’t affected us much yet. Today, we had a thing happen where the lettuce did not get delivered for the salad, so I had to run out and buy a bunch of lettuce," she said. "Not only was it very expensive compared to usual, but the man who was selling it said, 'Oh, it’s going to get even worse.'"

The staff had to compensate for unexpected problems.

"Things I noticed this week: some things that the cook ordered did not come as she ordered them, we didn’t get as many as we were supposed to get for some," Gautier said. "And it’s very hard when you are working week to week to get it out there and suddenly you don’t have what do you think is coming."

Skylar, who lost his job in the COVID-19 pandemic, relies on the church for a healthy and delicious meal.

"There’s nothing else going on that hands out food on Wednesday nights except for maybe another church," he said.

Across the East River, in Long Island City, Bishop Mitchell Taylor, pastor at Center of Hope International Church, overseas the Bread of Life pantry. He says it's always been a challenge to meet demand in this area, which is home to several large public housing developments. But he’s facing a tougher time this year, particularly his effort to hand out hundreds of turkeys for Thanksgiving.

“Turkeys now are anywhere between a $1.69, $1.79 a pound, so trying to find vendors that will work with us to give us the quantities that we need is really difficult,” Taylor said. “Because the prices are so high, whereas in years past — $0.99 a pound, you know, maybe $1.05 the most a pound, but now the prices are really through the roof.”

Before the pandemic, the pantry could hand out as many as a thousand turkeys. But this year, he’s unsure how many he can get.

“My staff, my team are making the calls, and just today they were saying that the prices are high, there’s no guarantee that we'll have the supply when you want it,” Taylor said. "So it’s a little chicken and egg, you know, paying up front for something that you may or may not get on time."


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