NBC New York
A food pantry in the Bronx is being accused of dumping fresh produce in the trash, forcing families to rummage through rotting produce, leftover garbage and rats in order to get food. Ida Siegal reports.
A food pantry in the Bronx is being accused of dumping fresh produce in the trash, forcing families to rummage through rotting produce, leftover garbage and rats in order to get food.
"This is not a way to give out food," said neighbor Hector Feliciano. "Every elected official will tell you they didn't know this was going on, but this has been going on."
The open-air food pantry is run by the church next door, Iglesia de Dios Senda de Bendicion on 148th Street in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx.
At times, food sits next to garbage and other items like furniture that have been donated to the church.
"You pass here at night, and you see the rats running like if it was a freeway and that is not good," said Elliot Quinones. "The intention was very good. Let's do it in a way that everybody can really benefit."
People in the community say the problem got worse last week when a big shipment was delivered, much of it rotten. It forced people to dig through the rotten vegetables to get to the good produce.
People say the problem is the lack of dignity.
"It's been eating my heart out for the last year," said Feliciano. "I don't believe we need food distributed this way. We deserve more respect."
The owner of the pantry couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday, but DNAInfo reports he said some food donations are so big they don't all fit in the church refrigerators, forcing him to leave the rotten food outside.
The Department of Sanitation said the church was issued two $100 fines last month, and they are working with the pastor to make sure the lot gets cleaned up.
Get the latest from NBC 4 New York anytime, anywhere. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. Get our apps here and sign up for email newsletters here. Get breaking news delivered right to your phone -- just text NYBREAKING to 639710. For more info, text HELP. To end, text STOP. Message and data rates may apply.