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Upper West Side School Takes on Hunger Crisis During Pandemic

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Students at Schechter Manhattan planted a pan-tree at 107th and Columbus from which people can take what they need and give what they can.

Students at a Jewish day school on the Upper West Side decided to tackle the problem of hunger during the pandemic.

So they planted a tree —- a pan-tree —- at 107th and Columbus and filled it with food. Science teacher Allison Levine of the Schechter Manhattan school said it’s aptly named.

“It’s at a community garden and we chose to put it on the perimeter versus inside because we wanted it to be available 24 hours a day,” she said. “The community garden allowed us to chain it to the fence so it’s sitting in a bucket of concrete on the sidewalk and the back of it is linked on there.”

Levine said there’s been no problem keeping it stocked.

“It’s in a pretty prominent area so people see it and they pass by it and maybe they bring stuff to fill it,” she said. “I know also a lot of the members of the community garden knew about this project and they were involved in allowing us to do it. They’re local to the neighborhood and I think that they often contribute as well.”

Levine said there’s also a QR code tied to the pantry.

“People can scan and it links to a form letting us know when you stop by the pantry is the pantry full, 3/4 full, half full, a quarter full or empty and people can also request things,” she said.

There’s a low tech way to do it too. If you’re walking by the pantry and see that it’s empty, just raise the little arm on the side, like a mailbox, and when the students check on it, they’ll know it needs a fill-up.

According to City Harvest, one in three children living in NYC lacks consistent access to healthy, nutritious food – a 64% increase over pre-pandemic figures.

To learn more about the Schechter Manhattan 107th Street Food Pan-TREE or to make a donation, please visit schechtermanhattan.org/campaigns/schechter-manhattan-chanukah-match.