Queens senator encourages support for mutual aid efforts, food pantries during COVID-19 pandemic

Courtesy of Gianaris’ office

In a district that stretches from Astoria down through Ridgewood, state Senator Michael Gianaris has focused his efforts during the coronavirus pandemic partnering with local mutual aid organizations and food pantries to deliver food and supplies to seniors and residents in need during the crisis.

Gianaris also worked in cooperation with the Queens borough president’s office to provide face masks to these organizations and he also made online resources available to connect local residents with assistance.

“I am so proud that so many in western Queens have stepped up and are helping their neighbors in need,” Gianaris said. “We should all raise awareness of the good work these groups are doing and share a helping hand as we ensure everyone has basic necessities. That willingness to sacrifice and help others is the essence of what it means to be a New Yorker.”

Gianaris is encouraging residents in need of assistance to contact organizations that are providing help. Information can be found on his website, where he has created a dedicated page for coronavirus-related resources.

Gianaris helped deliver boxes of supplies to the Bread of Life food pantry serving the Queensbridge community run by the Center of Hope International Church under the leadership of Bishop Mitchell Taylor, the co-founder of Urban Upbound. The pantry is located at 38-49 12th St., between 38th and 40th avenues in Long Island City.

“Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, already acutely struggling neighbors have borne a great burden,” Taylor said. “I am thankful the Bread of Life pantry has been able to sustain friends and neighbors like never before and I appreciate the partnership of Senator Gianaris who has been here to help on the ground and fought for our needs on a broad stage.”

LIC Relief is coordinating interagency efforts in Long Island City, Sunnyside, Woodside and Astoria partnering with local restaurants to provide free meals to seniors and homebound individuals. Gianaris visited their food pantry and distributed face masks to volunteers.

“LIC Relief was formed on March 13, the first COVID relief group in Queens, to proactively tackle the inevitable food insecurity issue,” LIC Relief Co-Founder Kelly Craig said. “We were the first in NYC to create an ecosystem community-based model that pays restaurants per meal they make to feed those in need along with our pantry. Now in week eight of our operation, we have been feeding 5,000 people a week and have put over $15,000 a week into 11 local restaurants to help keep them open and staff retained.”

The Hungry Monk, started in 2017, recently expanded its efforts with Woodbine to meet the needs of the current crisis working out of Covenant Lutheran Church and serving Ridgewood, Glendale, Maspeth and Middle Village. Their volunteers are working to ensure local pantries are fully stocked and those in need receive food deliveries.

An average of 300 meals are being served daily, and close to 250,000 pounds of food has been shared. Gianaris organized food donations and distributed food to local residents and also donated face masks to the organization.

“The Hungry Monk is grateful for the Senator’s support of the Woodbine,” Hungry Monk Director of Operations Danielle Keren said. The collaboration between the Hungry Monk, the Woodbine and the senator’s office is an example of how our community can come together to help those most in need.”

State Senate candidate Iggy Terranova (l.) distributes meals at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Astoria (Courtesy of Terranova’s campaign)

Astoria resident Iggy Terranova, who is mounting a primary challenge for Gianaris’ seat, has also been helping the community with Real Estate Has Your Back distributing food made by Neuman’s Kitchen. Meals are being served Monday through Friday at the St.Demetrios Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Astoria.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt across our city, and there are so many who are struggling to find food,” Terranova said. “We’re continuing to find ways to ensure that our neighbors have access to meals during this difficult time.”

Last month, Terranova helped organize food distribution at NYCHA developments at Queensbridge, Ravenswood, Woodside and Astoria houses.

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