BY BENJAMIN MANDILE
The Ozone Park Residents Block Association (OZPKRBA) has partnered with local food pantries to help distribute food to those in need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Food boxes are available to residents in Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park, Woodhaven and Cityline Brooklyn. The food, which is picked up at Queens Borough Hall, is available to those who “require food and are financially strained,” according to Sam Esposito, president of the OZPKRBA.
Esposito said 200 boxes of food were available and distributed Wednesday on a first-come, first-serve basis. Nearly 100 people signed up for the first week of food and water distribution, and the last 50 boxes were split between two local food pantries.
The initiative served the above communities and also included residents in Far Rockaway, Middle Village and Queens Village.
“It was a very, very trying day,” said Esposito.
Volunteers from the Cityline Ozone Park Civilian Patrol (COPCP) helped distribute food across the borough.
“Our emotions ran high listening to all the stories of people, in need,” Esposito wrote in a Facebook post about the day. “Listening to their plights and how scared everyone is. It was a roller coaster of tears and sadness all day. But we all rose to the occasion and did our jobs.”
The efforts made extend beyond the OZPKRBA and COPCP, with additional help provided by the Cityline Eldert Lane Block Association, the Ozone Park Kiwanis, the Richmond Hill South Ozone Park Lions, the Southwest Queens Rotary Club, the Jamaica Rotary Club, the OZPKRBA legal advisor and lawyer, Community Board 9 and Assemblyman Mike Miller, who represents the 38th district.
The partnership started March 24 and will run for the next four weeks, with 400 boxes prepared each day by FreshDirect for Queens-based community based organizations.
Esposito requests those in need to email email@example.com, or for those without email to reach out via Facebook Messenger to give the group your name, address and phone number. If neither of these methods are feasible, those needing food can call 641-0405.
“We need to reach as many people as we can to get the food that is desperately needed,” said Esposito.
For those in need of assistance who do not meet the criteria for this initiative, OZPKRBA is coordinating grocery shopping for the community so people do not need to leave home.
The group does not want people outside and said they will pick up lists for shopping and COPCP will conduct the shopping. The group has been out in the community in an effort to help during the pandemic for the last two weeks but says it has not been able to reach the amount of people it has wanted to.
Facebook page Ozone Park Voice is the most efficient way for the community to get information in real time, according to an OZPKRBA representative.
It has now opened its page to all residents and businesses in Cityline Brooklyn, Howard Beach, Kew Gardens, Ozone Park, Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park and Woodhaven.
Food boxes include:
- Rice (2 bags, 16oz)
- Pasta (2 boxes, 16oz)
- Canned beans (2 cans, 10-16oz)
- Canned meat/fish (2 cans, 3-5oz)
- Canned vegetables (2 cans, 8-15oz)
- Raisins/dried fruit (4 boxes, 2oz per box)
- Cereal/oatmeal (1 box, 10-20oz)
- Milk/milk substitute (1 container, 32oz)
- Corn (2 ears)
- 2 potatoes (two)
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- Orange/apple (2 in total)
- Additionally, Nestlé Waters is donating 80,000 gallons of Poland Spring Brand 100% Natural Spring Water.