You see the truck around town. You know us as the North Brooklyn Angels, but our legal name is The North Brooklyn Coalition of Neighbors Helping Neighbors. We are a 501C3 tax-exempt nonprofit organization formed in December 2016. The Angelmobile, our 40ft mobile soup kitchen vehicle, started serving meals on the streets of Brooklyn on June 19, 2017. In the first six months, our volunteers served over 13,000 meals. On January 2, 2018, we opened our community kitchen, cooking all the meals ourselves with volunteers. Since then, in the next 6 months of operation, our volunteers have cooked and served over 20,000 meals. Our organization is based on the idea that we are a neighborhood filled with people who want to work together to fight hunger, food insecurity, and poverty. We believe direct action by neighbors is an important resource in building an equitable and diverse neighborhood.
In a year on the streets, using serious volunteer power, North Brooklyn Angels has addressed the local meal gap by serving over 33,400 free hot & healthy meals. The Meal Gap, New York City’s official measure of food insecurity, represents the meals missing from the homes of people struggling with food insecurity — that is, when household food budgets fall too short to secure adequate, nutritious food year-round. Factors like poverty and local food costs determine how big a city’s meal gap is. The meal gap in North Brooklyn, formed by the neighborhoods of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick, ranges from 11 meals to 0.9 meals, depending on the survey area. Formerly three working-class and industrial neighborhoods, this part of Brooklyn has been rapidly gentrifying since the 1990s. As North Brooklyn continues to transform with an influx of wealth, an explosion of development, the skyrocketing of real estate values, an inundation of nightlife establishments, bars, trendy restaurants, & hip cafes, the proliferation of movie productions, and the continual use of Williamsburg, Greenpoint, and Bushwick as a lifestyle prop, it must be recognized that amidst all this wealth and buzz, there is hunger, displacement pressure, and economic uncertainty for the working poor, the homeless, and the low income residents barely surviving and very much struggling to remain in our community.
Our neighbors should not have to choose between food on the table and a roof over their head. In response to the gentrification, hunger, homelessness, and poverty that is seen on the streets of our neighborhood, a group of residents came together to form this direct-action group to directly respond to a basic need in our neighborhood. What started as a few people cooking meals for a homeless shelter has flourished into a much bigger mission. As these neighbors brainstormed the many needs out there in our community, an idea to fund a mobile soup kitchen kept popping to the top of the list. That idea became our first official project and after an initial phase of fundraising, this 40-ft. food service truck equipped with office space affectionately known as the Angelmobile, became a reality. The start-up funding for the Angelmobile project came from a generous donation from the Episcopal Ministries of Long Island. In addition, Norm & Elaine Brodsky are founding partners in the truck with a sustained donation. As we started serving meals, we realized that to meet our goals we needed to adjust our timeline to build a community kitchen. Therefore, in our six month of operation, thanks to donations and loans, we built our community kitchen in the Parish Hall of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. Through the outpouring of generous support from Elaine & Norm Brodsky, Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, and local restaurateur Josh Cohen, the North Brooklyn Angels began cooking in a brand new, licensed commercial kitchen. Led by our Kitchen Captains, Josh Cohen and Donna Sinetar, volunteers prep and cook 900 healthy meals a week for our neighbors.