Woodbine, Ridgewood’s volunteer-run experimental hub, is offering resources and services to the community during the coronavirus health emergency.
“Normally, our space functions as a cultural and community hub, and a space for organizing,” said Matt Peterson, an organizer at Woodbine. “But we mostly hosted events, like Sunday dinners, co-working, we also helped start community garden — but all of that ended. We had to stop due to the pandemic.”
But Peterson said that part of their mission is to find innovative ways to organize and connect with their neighbors and figure out how to help each other — and a food pantry is one of those ways they can have immediate impact.
Food distribution will take place outside of their space, located at 1882 Woodbine St. in Ridgewood, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. Woodbine will focus on providing fresh produce while Hungry Monk will provide dry and canned food on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.
They are pre-bagging food items so that people can pick up and go easily while maintaining social distancing precautions.
Their selection of food will change every day and week, depending on what they receive. For instance, their first pick-up bags on Friday, March 27 each had potatoes, cauliflower, kale, basil, bread, 2 boxed salads, green sauce, banana bread with walnuts, and a dark chocolate Kind bar.
Woodbine is also offering home-distribution of food and supplies for those in the Ridgewood area who are currently experiencing coronavirus symptoms, or who are otherwise unable to pick up food on-site.
Peterson added that they hope to bring back their annual Summer Farm Share, which take place on Saturdays from June to October, and will partner again with Rock Steady, a cooperative farm in Millerton, New York. They’ve been hosting the summer and winter community supported agriculture since 2015.
“We think there will still be a need for people to purchase fresh food and help our local farmers,” Peterson said.
Woodbine also launched a new Mutual Aid section on their website, in order to highlight the local information and resources that the community may need — including the names and contact information of their elected officials.
In fact, Woodbine is currently advocating for rent to be canceled.
“We started talking to a lot of our neighbors and one of the big things we’ve heard is that many people aren’t working,” Peterson said. “Lots of New Yorkers live paycheck to paycheck and this has been going on for two to three weeks now. We saw there’s a lot of other relief like eviction and mortgage moratorium, but Cuomo left rent a bit vague.”
Peterson said they’ve contacted their local officials, and was glad to hear that Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris is working on legislation to suspend rent for residential and commercial tenants for 90 days; Congresswoman Grace Meng is introducing a similar bill to provide relief for the duration of the pandemic.
But they believe it’s ultimately up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo to suspend rent before April 1. On Monday, March 30 , Cuomo said he doesn’t support the measure.
“A mortgage moratorium only works for a certain class. Even with an eviction moratorium, you’re putting people in a bad position, because a lot of tenants live near or in the same building as their landlord,” Peterson said. “Legislative action would solve a lot of issues, like the national rent strike that people are organizing. Rather than get to that point, it would be better for Cuomo to offer that relief to renters.”
For Ridgewood residents who want to take advantage of Woodbine’s services or for more information, visit their website at www.woodbine.nyc.