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Supermarket-style food pantry opens in Upper East Side

Cutting the ribbon for the new Urban Outreach Center of NYC.
Photo courtesy of Council Member Ben Kallos' office

Holiday cheer and good tidings are being bestowed upon low-income and homeless New Yorkers with the grand opening of the new Urban Outreach Center of NYC. 

On Thursday morning, local elected officials christened the new food and social services site with a ribbon cutting, featuring several speakers. 

The Urban Outreach Center of NYC, a nonprofit located on 1745 First Ave., will serve as a food pantry while also doubling as a resource that will aid the unemployed find work by connecting them with social service programs and engaging visitors with mock job interview exercises. 

City Council Member Ben Kallos joined members of the East Side Task Force for Homeless Outreach in celebrating the Dec. 10 grand opening. This new location will help distribute locally grown produce and other healthy groceries, offering a community diner that serves restaurant quality meals, clothing rooms and even a transitional mailing address, in addition to the wide array of social service resources. 

“Our neighborhood is proud to welcome anyone in need, whether you are from midtown or downtown, Manhattan is sticking together to get through these tough times,” said  Kallos, a founder of the East Side Taskforce for Homeless Services. “I am proud to have partnered with our faith-based organizations and fellow elected officials to be able to open a much-needed community center like this one.”

Council Member Ben Kallos speaks during the ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Council Member Ben Kallos’ office)

The aim of this community support center is to aid those in need while also being cautious not to shame or stigmatize them. This is achieved by offering individuals a supermarket-style experience, the same as if they were shopping at an ordinary outlet.

Since the pandemic, food insecurity throughout the tri-state area has increased, causing hundreds of families to line up and down the city streets awaiting entry into food pantries. This new form of distribution hopes to humanizes the experience.

“The Urban Outreach Center is a much-needed resource on the East Side,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. “As we are battling a recession and pandemic, record numbers of New Yorkers are finding themselves homeless and jobless. The Urban Outreach Center will help mitigate that by providing essential services – such as a jobs center and food pantry – to help New Yorkers rebuild during and after the COVID-19 crisis.”

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