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Demand Spikes At Area Soup Kitchens

Lunch Line at Trinity Lower East Side Liz Wagner Homeless and needy line up for free lunch outside Trinity Lower East Side Lutheran Parish on East Ninth Street and Avenue B. The pastor of the church says that its soup kitchen is being stretched thin by an uptick in need.

Joey Ortiz has been coming to Trinity Lower East Side Parish on Ninth Street and Avenue B for a hot lunch nearly every weekday for two years. He’s been struggling to make ends meet since he lost his job working in an optometrist’s office at the SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn. One recent afternoon, he stood in the soup kitchen line for 20 minutes with dozens of people in front of and behind him. While Mr. Ortiz says he has never been denied a meal, he wonders how long the church will be able to feed an increasing number of hungry New Yorkers.

“You see how many people,” Mr. Ortiz said pointing to the growing line. “There is not enough food. There is more need.”

Pastor Phil Trzynka says Trinity’s nonprofit, Services and Food for the Homeless, Inc., is seeing more needy people now than ever before, but can still meet the demand. He says the soup kitchen, which provides lunches Monday through Friday, serves 235 meals a day — up from 150 meals five years ago. But Mr. Trzynka also says the church’s budget is $30,000 less than what it was last year because government grant money and individual donations are down. He says the Lutheran parish which serves all denominations and has operated a soup kitchen since the 1950’s, is being stretched thin.

“We have no funds to draw on anymore,” he said. “This year will be a year to decide how the program will continue.”
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