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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"Included in this group [the underrclass] are individuals who lack training and skills and either experience long-term unemployment or are not members of the labor force, individuals who are engaged in street crime and other forms of aberrant behavior, and families that experience long-term spells of poverty and/or welfare dependency."

- The Truly Disadvantaged: The Inner City, the Underclass, and Public Policy, by William Julius Wilson