Hundreds line up as Harlem food bank gives away turkeys for families in need

HARLEM, Manhattan (WABC) -- Millions of New Yorkers will go to bed hungry, and in Harlem, the stark reality of families at hunger's edge was apparent by the long lines that stretched for blocks at a food pantry.

In neighborhoods across the city, people are hungry.

"It means a lot to me because I don't have food at home, and now I've got some food," said Steven Engram.

Engram stood in line on Thursday night for hours at Drew Hamilton Community Center that had 200 turkeys to give away ahead of the holidays.

At least 300 people showed up hoping for help.

Tashana Pace is the program director and rallied her sorority sisters to donate all the food.

But in just an hour, they ran out.

"The faces were sad, some people dropped their heads and said 'are you sure' and I said 'I'm sure but we are working on getting more,'" Pace said.



If you listen to the economists, the politicians, the chamber of commerce they'll say the city is recovering. But not everywhere. And not nearly fast enough.

"You have to be here, you have to live it," Pace said.

Food banks across the country are reporting a flood of need.

In just the first quarter of the year, they distributed 31% more food than in the first quarter of last year, before the pandemic.

"I know that I go home and I'm OK, but then there are people out there that are not," Pace said. "And to have to walk down that line and tell people that we ran out..."

But Pace, who worked as an ad executive before taking the job at the community center, is only getting started.

"When I go outside and see a line down the block around the corner, I know that I'm doing the right thing," she said.

She may have run out of food on Thursday, but she is determined to have more by Tuesday -- in time for Thanksgiving.

If you would like to make a donation, you can contact The Children's Village/Drew Hamilton Community Center at 212-368-0759.

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