Columbia Neighbors Helps Holyrood Church Fight Hunger in Washington Heights

Maggie Barrows
September 15, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically increased demand at the Holyrood Church's community meals. Prior to the pandemic, the church was serving approximately 50 guests during two meals each week. They are now serving 65-75 people at each meal and have added grab-and-go meal distribution as well as a food pantry on Mondays.

Early in the pandemic, the increase in demand was so sharp that they were forced to turn guests away due to insufficient food supplies. Since then Holyrood Church food services has been able to keep up with the demand with support from the Columbia Neighbors Food Relief Fund, which has enabled them to purchase more food for their pantry and the cooked meals that they provide. Currently, the weekly food pantry is stocked with enough food for 175 people. Groceries are delivered by a group of 30 people to homebound clients unable to visit the food pantry.

Holyrood Church’s food outreach began in 2002 with weekly meals provided to a small number of homeless community members. They currently serve guests from Washington Heights and a few from New Jersey, approximately 50% of whom are homeless. The church and a grant from Episcopal Charities help to support the work.

The pandemic has driven an increase in the number of volunteers, which has also helped them continue to meet the demand. Unfortunately, some of their work is limited by the need for kitchen improvements. 

Those in need of food services are welcome to come to the Monday food distribution or the Wednesday or Friday meals at Holyrood Church, 715 West 179 Street. To keep up with the expanded demand, they are always in need of volunteers and donations, and are especially interested in people who can speak about health-related topics during the meals, and social workers. Interested individuals can contact Jacqueline Kellum-Foster at [email protected].