Mayor Bill de Blasio visits The Campaign Against Hunger food pantry in Brooklyn. Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.
With schools closed, seniors and vulnerable populations unable to leave their homes, and unemployment growing, many New Yorkers are facing unprecedented food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor Bill de Blasio this week released a $170 million plan to boost existing food delivery systems and secure the city’s food supply. “Whoever you are, wherever you are, if you need food, we’re here for you, and there should be no shame,” de Blasio said during a press briefing on Wednesday. “I want to emphasize this. There’s no one’s fault that we’re dealing with this horrible crisis. Anyone needs food? We’re here for you.”
The “Feeding New York” plan aims to provide meals to those in need that are both nutritious and culturally and ethically suitable. Through the plan, the city said it will provide 10 million meals to New Yorkers in April alone.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the city has provided over 4.5 million meals through grab and go meals distributed at city schools, emergency food delivery to low-income New Yorkers over age 60, and delivering roughly 300,000 meals to seniors who previously received food at senior citizens.
The plan builds on original efforts by expanding certain programs, including emergency home delivery. The program will work toward registering entire buildings, including senior affordable housing, senior NYCHA, and other nonprofit buildings, to make sure residents are getting food. And de Blasio said the city will invest $25 million to support the city’s over 800 food pantries, which include churches, food banks, and community organizations.
Currently, more than 11,000 drivers licensed with the Taxi & Limousine Commission have signed up to make these deliveries for those most in need, especially residents unable to leave their house. Deliveries are made six days per week; sign up online here or call 311 and say “Get Food” to register for the program.
“Feeding New York” also invests $50 million to protect the city’s food supply chain by building an emergency food reserve. This will provide 18 million “shelf-stable” meals if there’s any disruption to the supply during the crisis. This adds to the 300,00 ready-to-eat meals currently stored by the New York City Emergency Management.
In addition to asking grocery stores to require customers to wear masks while shopping, the city said it will connect large food businesses with manufacturers of personal protection equipment (PPE) and will work to donate equipment to smaller grocery stores in highly-impacted neighborhoods. Like other essential employees, grocery store workers are eligible to receive free childcare at the city’s Regional Enrichment Centers.
“Anytime you go to the supermarket, you go to the grocery please say thank you to them because it’s not easy for them or their families, we appreciate them,” de Blasio said. “But also remember this is not what they expected, these are folks just trying to make a living for their families. They did not expect to be on the front lines of an international crisis, but they’re acting with the same resolve and the same spirit as all our other heroes.”
Resources related to free food assistance programs offered by the city can be found here.
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