Driving down Hylan Boulevard, passing rows of large homes valued at around $600,000 each, you wouldn't expect to see long lines of people waiting for jars of peanut butter and loaves of bread. The St. Edward Food Pantry serves about 33,000 families in the neighborhood, and gets ten to fifteen new families every week. Executive Director Anita Fein says most of the people they help have fallen on hard times.
"I see somebody pulling up in an SUV, I see somebody coming in wearing a Rolex," she said. "You have to remind yourself, they could have lost their job, this [the Rolex] may be the last thing they have. They don't want to give it up, especially if it has some sentimental value."
Fein says the community is turning to food pantries due to rising unemployment and the high cost of living.
"We have a lot of what's called working poor down the center of the island... People are working, but unfortunately when you factor in all the other expenses they incur, the one expense that gets left by the wayside is food," she said.
St. Edward is one of only two food pantries in the area. It recieves donations from charity organizations and generous people who want to lend a helping hand, but contributions to the food pantry are declining.
"Monetary donations are down because people who have donated before in the past aren't doing it now," Fein said, "They need their own money."
Triada Stampas is a spokesman for Food Bank for New York City. She says many New Yorkers don't realize that some of their neighbors are struggling to bring food to the table.
"Hunger exists everywhere in New York City, and it is often invisible," she said. "No one walks around with a label on them that says I haven't eaten today, or I didn't have dinner last night, or I don't get enough to eat on a regular basis."
According to Food Bank for NYC, one in five New Yorkers relies on their services to get by.