NY Daily News: Soup kitchen serves NYCHA tenants free meals after gas leak

March 23 2014 

The gas may be out, but at least they’re not starving.

Queens soup kitchen Masbia is giving a ladle up to the New York City Housing Authority residents who lost their gas at the Pomonok Houses in Flushing earlier this month.

Teams of volunteers will serve free meals to all comers every Wednesday at the crumbling NYCHA development’s community center after tenants and NYCHA officials cried out for help.

A fuel leak caused Con Ed to turn off gas at 249 apartments March 13, forcing residents to go without stoves and ovens. Officials have not said how long the shutdown will last.

“Even though it’s a bad thing that’s happening, we’re trying to come together as a community and make it work,” said Monica Corbett, president of the Pomonok Residents Association.

Run by the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, Masbia operates three free meal centers in Brooklyn and one in Rego Park. Volunteers from the nonprofit — which gets its name from the Hebrew for “satiate” — served about 50 residents Wednesday and had enough food for 100 Thursday.

NYCHA isn’t paying Masbia, an agency spokesperson said. After four buildings in the 35-building complex lost gas, NYCHA distributed hot plates to residents.

After agency officials called the soup kitchen, Masbia chef Ruben Diaz and a crew of servers drove up with hot tins of pastrami, chicken, mashed potatoes, rice and veggies.

“We are trying to have a nice meal for the people and their families,” said Diaz, who has cooked at Masbia since 2011.

Residents hope the agency restores gas service quickly so they can avoid eating out regularly. Hospice aide Jasmine Mobley is concerned about how long it takes to make food for her 10-year-old son on her new hot plate.

“I can’t afford to order food every day — I’m not rich,” said Mobley, 33. “So we have to make do.”

Work to repair the existing gas lines and install a new one will begin next week, an agency spokesperson said in a statement.

“Restoring gas service in response to a leak is not a quick process,” the spokesperson wrote in an email. “It frequently takes an average of four weeks to restore gas service for multi-family buildings. Given the complexity of the repairs at Pomonok Houses, it could take longer.”

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