As southeast Queens continues to be impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, Councilwoman Adrienne Adams teamed up with a sorority, the Queens borough president’s office, and Fresh Direct to provide food and face masks to the Harding Ford Vision food pantry in Jamaica.
The pantry is located next to the South Jamaica Houses NYCHA complex and serves as a food distribution hub for the community’s most vulnerable people.
“Our community has been hit very hard by COVID-19 and today’s donation of food and masks was an important effort especially critical, given the current demand on food banks,” Adams said. “Alpha Kappa Sorority, Inc. Epsilon Pi Omega Chapter, Acting Borough President Sharon Lee and Fresh Direct have been unwavering partners in the fight to end hunger in our community and I am deeply thankful for their ongoing support during this unprecedented time. While some New Yorkers have been stocking up and clearing store shelves of food and hand sanitizer, others cannot afford to do the same.”
Given the increase in unemployment in southeast Queens, Harding Ford Vision has experienced a surge in demand for food assistance, a shortage of donated food, and a decrease in volunteer workers. Adams and her coalition distributed 500 boxes of fresh food and 500 face masks to the community while Alpha Kappa Alpha donated $1,500 to help fill the gaps for the food pantry.
“This is an unprecedented time of need in so many ways, and it’s very easy to feel powerless,” Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Epsilon Pi Omega Chapter President Stephanie Cooper-Smiley said. “This donation is meeting a real need and I am thrilled that we of Alpha Kappa Alpha Inc. here in southeast Queens, have this wonderful chance to live out the creed of our sorority’s foundation, ‘to be of service to all mankind.’ It’s just an honor to come out and serve.”
The sorority’s philanthropic arm, Pearls & Ivy Foundation of Queens, also joined the effort.
“The world is in a crisis and our community is hurting,” Pearls & Ivy Foundation of Queens President Naomi Hills said. “The Pearls & Ivy Foundation of Queens was founded to be of service to our community. Through our partnership with the 5 Borough feed initiative sponsored by the acting Queens borough president’s office and Fresh Direct, we can feed more people.”
The donations to the food pantry filled a great need.
“Donations like this will make an immediate impact for families during this COVID-19 pandemic,” Harding Ford Vision Executive Director LaNeda Mondesir said. “We believe the support will fulfill our vision for families to never go to bed hungry and feel they do not have to make a choice to purchase food or pay their bills.”
Adams also had a message for Governor Andrew Cuomo, who in March announced the state would provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer to all New Yorkers free of charge. The prisoner-produced sanitizer was to have been distributed to the most impacted and high-risk communities, but southeast Queens was left off the supply line.
“Many residents have little or no buffer against this sudden loss in income and I have joined my colleagues in government to call on the governor to provide food pantry consumers in our city with free personal use bottles of hand sanitizer,” Adams said. “The safety and well being of all New Yorkers is of utmost concern and the administration should at least provide hand sanitizer so citizens can better protect themselves.”