New York City’s emergency food programs are being hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with approximately 32% already closed, according to Food Bank for NYC. Caught between a skyrocketing demand for meals as hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers are laid off, and rising prices and operating difficulties, many food programs that serve Brooklyn’s most vulnerable have already closed and more are at risk of doing so as the virus progresses.
“From low-income seniors unable to leave their homes to hourly workers missing paychecks and seeking support for the first time in their lives, there has been a surge in demand across our network.” said Nicholas Buess, Associate Director, Mobilization & Policy at Food Bank For New York City. She joined City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, councilmembers and other non-profits in calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio to release $25 million dollars in funding for these programs, in addition to the $25 million requested from the State.
The $50 million in funding would provide 19 million in meals, according to Met Council, an NYC-based anti-poverty group.
Along with increased demand, emergency food programs are facing other difficulties. Many of the programs’ volunteers are above 60 and have to self-isolate, forcing them to find paid workers, while others have to take further measures to protect both themselves and their clients. Combined with increased food costs and supply issues, many more emergency food groups are at risk of closing.
“We have seen a 57% increase this week alone in our crisis cases.”David G. Greenfield, CEO of Met Council said. “If government doesn’t act, within days most of New York’s food pantries will close.”