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More New Yorkers than ever are turning to community food shares and pantries — and one enterprising teen has created a new app that maps the ever-growing directory of neighborhood food sources.

16-year old New York native Henry Greenhut, the inventor of the NYC Pantry App. Photo montage: Phil O’Brien

PantryMap, created by 16-year-old New Yorker Henry Greenhut, lets users geolocate nearby pantries, with a host of details including the address, operating hours, contact information and volunteer opportunities. 

Henry, a regular volunteer at The Bowery Mission before COVID-19, was looking for a new organization to work with after pandemic restrictions limited volunteers under 18. “You would think that in New York City, there’s a thousand food pantries everywhere and it would be easy to find one nearby to volunteer,” he said, “but I searched and couldn’t find one and so I thought maybe I could help.”

The Bronx high school student learned to code through online research and YouTube tutorials, and spent time learning about Swift, the programming language used to build Apple apps. “There was a lot of trial and error — I’m a novice app developer,” said Henry. “A lot of my last summer was spent learning about Swift and how you can construct apps from the ground up.”

Holy Cross Church Crossroads Pantry on W42nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenue. Photo: Phil O’Brien

“Eventually I got to the proficiency level where I learned Google Maps as an API (application programming interface) to find pantries nearby,” he added. “ And fast forward a couple of years later, my programming and technological ability had increased a lot and I thought I’d give it a shot  — and then PantryMap was born!” 

While building an online database from Google listings, Henry saw that “a lot of times there’s not a lot of detail about these pantries.” He reached out to hundreds of pantries and food shares to gather their operating and volunteer information. “A couple hundred responded and I’ve thrown their responses onto the app, so that way you get the detailed instructions directly from food pantries — what they want you to know if you want to come get some of the food to eat or what to know if you want to volunteer,” he added. 

Volunteers at the Hell’s Kitchen Community Cupboard on 10th Avenue between W45th and W46th Street. Photo supplied

The app is now live, but still developing as Henry adds more locations daily and plans for expanded features —  like the ability to search for pantries citywide (the app currently zeroes in on the phone’s location), additional design views and a crowdsourcing feature “where people can add their own information about a pantry they know nearby where they’ve volunteered before, so I can network my collecting data,” said Henry. “This is version one of the app.” 

If you’re looking for food pantries in the neighborhood, be sure to check out the PantryMap app, which features some of the Hell’s Kitchen locations below.  

Crossroads Seventh Day Adventist Church — 410 W 45th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue 

Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church — 457 W 51st Street between 9th and 10th Avenue 

Encore Community Services — 220 W 49th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue 

Hell’s Kitchen Community Cupboard — 10th Avenue between W45th and W46th Street

Holy Cross Church Crossroads Pantry — 329 W 42nd Street between 8th and 9th Avenue 

Jumpstart — 505 8th Avenue between W35th and W36th Street 

Gay Men’s Health Clinic Pantry — 307 W 38th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue

St Clements Food Pantry — 423 W 46th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue

St Francis of Assisi Church — 135 W31st Street between 6th and 7th Avenue 

St Luke’s Church — 308 W46th Street between 8th and 9th Avenue

Metro Baptist Church — 410 W40th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue 

Metropolitan Community Church — 446 W 36th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue 

Saint Paul the Apostle Church — 405 W59th Street between 9th and 10th Avenue 

Saint Paul House — 355 W51St Street between 8th and 9th Avenue 

Urban Pathways — ​​575 8th Avenue between W38th and W39th Street

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2 Comments

  1. Henry: this is AWESOME!!! BRINGING pantries into the 22nd Century!!!! I used to volunteer and make brown bag lunches and distribute them in Hells Kitchen for a number of years

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