BRONX, N.Y. - It’s a different look at Part of the Solution (POTS) in the Bedford Park section of The Bronx. Volunteers with masks are packing bags with groceries and preparing meals to go for folks who need a boost to feed their families.
It's a different setup than usual inside the pantry at POTS - typically people pick out items supermarket style, but coronavirus has for now, put an end to that practice.
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"People could come in and shop with points to select their items, but now we are just giving pre-packaged bags to people directly," said POTS Executive Director Christina Hanson.
There is no longer seating in the community dining room, that’s why they are providing those "to go" meals instead of sit down lunches. These are just some of the changes POTS had to make due to restrictions brought on by the virus.
The organization, which provides a variety of social services to low income members of the community, has moved most of those services to over the phone. Meals are being served five days a week instead of seven. The new model has actually allowed POTS to increase the number of meals they serve per day to 1200 from 475, with the help of staff and volunteers.
“It's a faster process, it's a little bit less personal, but it's a little bit faster," Hanson said.
POTS is also benefitting from meals from World Central Kitchen and Chef Jose Andres. More meals are important because there has been an increase in need, with more area families struggling to put food on the table.
"We've seen a quintupling of the of the number of children over the first couple of weeks this month and in addition, there's a lot of new people," Hanson said.
Those new people are families who Hanson says have never needed their food pantry or community dining room before. Typically POTS serves 82 households a day, recently that number has been as high as 174.
With the increased numbers of families looking for assistance, Christina Larson says they are planning for the months ahead.
"There's a lot of work and we need to make sure we are planning for it, because this will go on for a little while I think and we need to address it and help people out," Hanson said.
She also says they need to make sure families get connected with POTS case managers who can help with applications for assistance, so the food pantry isn't the only resource available to them.
POTS is still in need of volunteers to help them do this work in the community. Contact POTSBronx.org to find out more.