Flushing resident Teo Ramirez is proud to be a part of a movement to provide food for those in need in his neighborhood, borough and beyond.
Ramirez, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, has called Flushing home since 1986, when he and his wife decided the neighborhood was a good place to live. It was there they raised their four children.
About a decade after moving into the neighborhood, a friend who already worked for City Harvest — an organization which transports food that would otherwise go to waste to families in need — suggested Ramirez apply for a job. He put in an application to become a driver.
“I did, I got the job, and I am still here 20 years later,” he said. “I love my job and helping New Yorkers.”
On an average day, Ramirez drives one of the organization’s 22 trucks and picks up food from donors at local supermarkets and bakeries. He then delivers the food, mostly bread and produce, to nearby agencies that distribute the food to locals in need.
The driver said he sometimes sees upwards of 300 people waiting in line outside of a pantry. While making a recent delivery to an agency based on Main Street, a staff worker told Ramirez he had 200 people waiting for the large food delivery and the food would all be handed out within an hour.
This year, City Harvest celebrates 35 years of serving the community. Nearly 1.3 million New Yorkers struggle to put meals on the table, according to the organization. To date, City Harvest has rescued and delivered over 600 million pounds of nutritious food for hungry city residents.
In Queens, approximately 264,440 people are food insecure, according to recent data. Northwest Queens is one of City Harvest’s “Healthy Neighborhoods”: a program that provides essential food resources to areas of the five boroughs that are most in need.
“My route is in Queens, in my own neighborhood, and it feels really good to help my community,” he said. “I didn’t know until I started working for City Harvest that there were so many people in need in this area. I feel good that I am able to help feed people in my neighborhood.”
Ramirez said he plans to work for the organization until he retires.
Learn more about City Harvest’s operation by visiting their website.