Ruben Diaz loves his job as a chef and manager at Masbia, a soup kitchen and food pantry, offering both meals and food to New Yorkers. But his line of work also means he’s regularly in contact with the hundreds of people the non-profit serves per day.
“Every day we are exposed 24 hours because we are open here 24 hours,” he said.
So, Diaz was thrilled to become eligible for the vaccine. As of Monday, officials say regional food bank workers, food pantry workers, and home-delivered meal program workers can sign up for the shot.
Demand at Masbia skyrocketed during the pandemic, with more New Yorkers unemployed and food insecure.
“A lot of people lose their job. a lot of people don’t know what to do. A lot of people have many problems,” said Diaz.
The vaccine news is also a bright spot in what’s been a challenging year for the organization.
CEO and Executive Director Alexander Rapaport says Masbia moved to an appointment system open around the clock from Sunday at noon until Friday at noon to help ease long lines that were forming.
The organization has been relying heavily on donations to get them through the pandemic.
“There’s many immigrants who don’t get everything that we hear from Washington. A lot of people are scared to take part and not eligible. They end up on the bread line over here,” he said. “It’s fair to say that every dollar donated to us is in someone’s stomach in two weeks.”
Diaz says Masbia has been a lifeline for so many New Yorkers, and the vaccine will help the team stay healthy for them, too.
“A lot of people come from different neighborhoods, so we cannot fail them,” said Diaz.
Masbia has three soup kitchen and food pantry locations in total in Borough Park, Flatbush, and Forest Hills.
If you’re interested in making a donation you can visit www.masbia.org.