By Christina Carrega
When Americans were in the midst of the government’s longest-ever shutdown, companies and organizations opened their doors to help federal employees who were not receiving their paychecks. Free pizza, free haircuts, free movies and free nonperishable goods were all offered to government workers.
“A lot of these businesses are doing these services from the heart, but I want them to also think about the homeless as well,” said Rev. Kevin McCall of Brownsville to the Eagle. “I want organizations to continue the same heartfelt effort for the homeless people, who do not have a government job.”
Rev. McCall, 32, is holding a press conference at 6 p.m. on Wednesday to launch an evening-only food pantry at 407 Rockaway Parkway in Brownsville and to announce the creation of his nonprofit: Social Justice Preacher. Another pantry is slated to open in South Jamaica at 115-47 Sutphin Blvd. on Feb. 13.
The food distribution centers, which will be open from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. every day, will distribute food to the homeless and to government employees during times when other organizations, such as Bread and Life, Hunger Free America and Food Bank of New York City, are closed.
Rev. McCall teamed up with Rescue Cuisine Leftovers (RCL), which feeds the community by dispatching volunteers to collect unused food from restaurants and supermarkets to distribute to homeless shelters and rescue missions.
“I noticed in New York City there is no place you can go to to receive food after 6:30 in the evening, so I connected with RCL and the businesses in the community to host the pantry,” said Rev. McCall.
The Brownsville property is a medical office during the daytime, and the South Jamaica address is Amazing Grace Ministries, led by Pastor Traci Walls, who wanted to include Queens in the mission. Both locations are donating the space.
“As homelessness is on the rise, I wanted to help the homeless — and now government workers — because I didn't want them to choose between paying rent and buying food for their families,” said Rev. McCall.
Some organizations like New York City Rescue Mission, which is open 24 hours a day on Lafayette Street in Manhattan, receive a small percentage of government funds, making them vulnerable to any potential future shutdown.
“My concern is a lot of people who are going to food pantries, they forget to realize the foods received are from federal subsidies — and if the government shutdown reinstates, what will happen then?” asked Rev. McCall. “I wanted to provide a sustainable resource so that people won't need to rely on the government for food.”
Those interested in volunteering can call (877)577-8855 or log on to www.socialjusticepreacher.com to sign up.