Soup Kitchen Uses Innovative Technology to Help Vulnerable

Steve Adubato goes one-on-one with Anthony Butler, Executive Director at St. John's Bread & Life, who talks about the unique ways this organization is reaching a vulnerable population in the New York area with their Mobile Soup Kitchen and Digital Food Choice Pantry.

6/9/17 #2047






"The public television family is pleased to welcome Tony Butler, Executive Director of St. John's Bread & Life. Good to see you Tony. It's great to be here. Your organization's doing great things, particularly in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. What is it? We're one of the largest emergency feeding programs in the city, doing over 2,600 meals a day, for hungry New Yorkers. Viewers should know that one in five New Yorkers uses emergency food. One in five? It's like 1.8 million, through the course of... Who are these people? They run from your classic, kind of, very homeless poor disenfranchised folks, to working folks. This morning I saw two people with TSA uniforms picking up at our food pantry. Because they're making a choice between rent and food. Right. Medicine and food. Stuff like that. So we work to respond to that. There's so many pieces to this terrific program. Yeah. The Farm to Table initiative? Mm hmm. That term gets used a lot? Yeah. But not everybody knows what it means. Go ahead. I mean it all comes out of our... my challenging of the food community to say, "Look at... you provide food... good food for people with means, what about people without means?" So that's launched our partnership with... we have four farms, where we purchase locally, I'm spending about 200,000 dollars a year. Locally sourced produce and milk. We're working... improving our menus, and cooking classes and things with local Brooklyn chefs, the kind of happening real hipster Brooklyn food world. And in the Fall, we're launching a food service... a job training program to help people move into, and kind of move out of poverty. Move into the food service industry. The other thing that's fascinating to me is you have a mobile soup kitchen? Mm hmm. Yeah. Why mobile? And not have people just come to you? We have both. We have people come to us. But the mobile allows us the flexibility of meeting the needs where they are. Three of our sites are day laborer sites. People For Work, one very interesting site, it's a women day laborer site. Where... A women...? laborer site, where they're sit... waiting to be picked up for domestic work. And they have a lot of the kind of traditional problems that women suffer from when they're exposed in the world of trafficking and domestic violence and like that. It also allowed us, during Sandy, to write that same day of Sandy to be out there providing the emergency food to folks when the power was out, like that, so our mobile allows us that kind of, pardon the pun, mobility, to really respond to their needs..."