Last year alone, it fed a little over 300,000 people throughout the city, or an estimated one million meals, as well as assisted with food stamp applications, Medicaid and immigration services.
The Kiwanis Club of Middle Village honored St. John’s Bread and Life and 30-year member Joe Martino with a $1,000 check at the club’s dinner and meeting at La Bella Cucina on Thursday, Nov. 21.
Anthony Butler, executive director of St. John’s Bread and Life, was there with Martino to accept the check, and said it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Following a recent $5 billion cut to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Butler explained that the facility has seen a huge increase in daily patrons.
“A family of four lost on average about $45 in food money, and these are folks that are below the poverty level and making less than $22,000 per year,” Butler said.
While there are many in need of assistance, Martino, 85, said the facility has luckily come a long way since he first began volunteering 30 years ago.
“The facility was small and they had soup almost every day,” Martino recalled. “We got nothing from nobody back then. We had to go out to different corporations for donations.”
Martino, a resident of Middle Village, added that the Robin Hood Foundation, Food Bank and City Harvest were their biggest donors when he first came on board.
Since retiring from the funeral business, Martino is now a full-time volunteer.
Kiwanis Club president Al Gentile said he was blown away by the size of the group's facility and efficiency of its staff, and said he was more than happy to help donate to the cause.
“This is how they secure most of the operating funds that they have,” Gentile said. “They get very little from the state and city, so they rely on mostly donations.”
New York District Kiwanis membership chair J.P. DiTroia said that the club is always looking for additional members to help raise funds for the community and charities like St. John’s Bread and Life.
"We are extremely excited that our dinner was so successful and that we were able to give back to the community,” DiTroia said. “There is a tremendous payback in the smiles we get from children and from families and the senior citizens that we help.”