When the COVID-19 pandemic descended on Queens just over a year ago, images of blocks-long food lines in Corona and other neighborhoods stunned the nation. Food pantries across the borough were stripped bare as “food insecurity” became part of the lexicon in describing the impact the economic downturn had in low-income and immigrant neighborhoods.
The city took action with emergency food programs across the city and now it has developed a 10-year food plan to address the issue.
“When COVID-19 hit, I made a promise to ensure no New Yorker goes hungry due to the pandemic,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday, Feb. 22. “We quickly mobilized to create GetFoodNYC and have distributed more than 200 million meals to New Yorkers. This 10-year food policy plan builds on top of this emergency effort and centers racial and economic justice in our food system in the long term.”
The Mayor’s Office of Food Policy developed the plan to handle hunger, food waste, malnutrition-related ailments and food industry instability. The Food Forward NYC policy is organized around five overarching goals that ensure New Yorkers have multiple access to healthy, affordable and culturally appropriate food; a food economy that drives economic opportunity and provides good jobs; the supply chains that feed the five boroughs are modern, efficient and resilient; the city’s food is produced, distributed and disposed of sustainably; and support the systems and knowledge to implement the 10-year food policy plan.
“We need urgency in reducing the racial disparities in food insecurity especially given the devastating impact of COVID-19 on communities of color and neighborhoods at the epicenter of the pandemic,” Councilman Francisco Moya said. “A food system that supports food businesses and workers, and ensures that as many New Yorkers have food on the table is critical as we work towards recovery.”
Community-based organizations, city agencies and elected officials mobilized to provide meals to food-insecure families as the pandemic raged. The lessons learned from the community response informed the new 10-year food policy.
“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed deep inequities within our city, leaving many New Yorkers food insecure,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “Queens families have been tremendously impacted, and more than ever, we need to ensure our borough’s neediest are being taken care of. Food pantries, community-based organizations and city resources have been lifelines for hungry residents. Food Forward NYC provides the framework in narrowing the inequity and will deliver food justice in years to come.”