De Blasio Unveils $170 Million Initiative to Fight Hunger During Pandemic

De Blasio Unveils $170 Million Initiative to Fight Hunger During Pandemic
Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability on COVID-19. City Hall. Wednesday, April 15, 2020. Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office.

Mayor Bill de Blasio gave a press conference yesterday morning to discuss the city’s newly increased efforts to fight hunger in the age of COVID-19. The mayor, along with Commissioner Kathryn Garcia from the Department of Sanitation, outlined a four-point plan including an unprecedented effort to reinforce the city’s food stores.

“I’m very confident in making this pledge, we will not allow any New Yorker to go hungry,” Mayor de Blasio said.

The Mayor’s initiative is a $170 million dollar plan, based mainly on reinforcing systems that the city already has in place. The first aspect of this initiative deals with the sheer scale of meals that are needed right now, over 10 million served through the month of April, according to the Mayor.

The City has also registered 11,000 TLC drivers to assist with the delivery of meals to people in need that are unable to leave the house.

“These drivers are doing that, helping us feed people, they’re being paid by the shift,” de Blasio said. “This is something that’s going to have a huge positive effect on the people doing the work, but even more they’re doing something absolutely crucial to help the vulnerable, most vulnerable amongst us.”

Thirdly, a $50 million portion of the initiative’s budget will go towards an emergency food reserve, storing 18 million shelf stable meals, a “failsafe”, in the words of the Mayor.

Finally, the plan outlines new initiatives to protect those serving the city food on the front lines, in grocery stores. The Mayor urged all stores to require their customers wear masks upon entry, and reiterated his plan to make sure the workers will have the gear that they need.

“We’ve been working with the different companies, supermarket companies and the grocery stores, to make sure that their workers get the PPEs they need of one kind or another,” de Blasio said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio visits The Campaign Against Hunger food pantry in Brooklyn on Tuesday, April 14, 2020. Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Commissioner Garcia used her time to reinforce the fact that New Yorkers should not panic about the supply chains to grocery stores.

“I want to make sure that New Yorkers are clear, our supply chain is stable. I know that many of you have seen items on store shelves, not there. The supply chain is adjusting to what we decided to buy that was very, very different than what we had ever bought before and so it is rapidly adjusting to this new reality. So, we are ramping up the food supply to make sure that we can take care of the most vulnerable,” Garcia said, adding that the city “will not compound the tragedy of the pandemic with the tragedy of hunger.”

De Blasio ended his press conference reiterating that New York has never had a food reserve in its history, praising the ingenuity of the plan.

“It’s a very tough, painful moment, but there’s also a lot of heroism, a lot of creativity, a lot of fight back. And I want to just thank everyone who is a part of all of these efforts and every one of you for everything that you’re doing to get us through this. And we will get through this,” the Mayor said.