A steady stream of people, some first-timers, wait for hours outside a church facility to pick up free groceries offered by The Muslim Women’s Initiative for Research and Development. This non-profit organization serves more than 10,000 people through its food pantries. Executive Director Nurah Ama’tullah says she has seen the hunger need rise by 70 percent in the Bronx, heavily populated by new immigrants and low-income families. Around 40 percent of children don’t know where their next meal will come from. Another problem is availability of fresh food. Still, despite the growing need for emergency food, federal funds for food distribution have been cut in an attempt to balance the nation’s budget. Her organization almost shut down last year because there wasn’t enough money to pay the staff.

  • Gloria Almanzar, age 76, waits in line at the food pantry. She is a former actress from the Dominican Republic.

  • Brandon Leonard, a 42-year-old employment coordinator and his partner Angela Flowers, age 53, wait in line for free food.

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"Secretiveness is especially common among welfare recipients, almost all of whom have non-welfare income that they conceal from the welfare departments."

- Making Ends Meet: How Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low-Wage Work, by Kathryn Edin and Laura Lein