Complaints of rotten food at Bronx food pantry

May 16, 2012 3:53:52 PM PDT
Disgusting and dangerous, that's what some people are calling a popular food pantry in the Bronx.

They say the conditions there are so deplorable, those in need are forced to comb through piles of rotting food to find something to eat.

Today the city's health department stepped in.

Eyewitness News cameras found rotten lettuce on the ground just inches from bags of garbage.

We found pallets of vegetables for the hungry sitting in the sun outside Iglesia de Dios Senda de Bendicion church in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx.

"It's nothing but rats people walking with big bags of food that you know they're not going to use rats running all over the place," said Elliot Quinones.

Some Residents complain the outdoor food pantry is so bad that needy people are forced to dig through boxes of rotting produce to find anything edible.

Others defended the volunteers who put in long hours doing god's work.

"They give out a lot of fresh food... a lot of fresh vegetables. I don't know why people is complaining about it. all that stuff is fresh," said Ralph Esteras.

Pantry director Hector Castillo said they serve as many as 5,000 people per month.

He claims the garbage is not food for the needy.

He says these neighborhood volunteers do their best to keep up with the mess.

Last month, the Department of Sanitation issued two violations within two weeks, one for loose rubbish; the other for failure to store receptacles, each carrying a $100 fine.

Some say the stench of decaying food is inhumane and unhealthy.

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