Queens leaders praise city’s effort to combat food insecurity during COVID-19 pandemic

The city's emergency food program has distributed more than 200 million free meals since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo courtesy of the mayor's office)

Queens leaders are marking a milestone reached by a vital city emergency food program to combat hunger related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

GetFoodNYC has distributed 200 million free meals to New Yorkers as economic fallout from the coronavirus emergency continues to heighten the existing need of food support across the five boroughs.

“Food insecurity was a deep and real threat to Queens families struggling to make ends meet well before COVID-19 began,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “We are beyond grateful to our food pantries and community-based organizations, who heroically stepped up to feed thousands of families at a time during this unprecedented public health crisis GetFoodNYC has been a critical lifeline for Queens families in need, and we share in the programs’ mission to ensure that, during this crisis, New Yorkers don’t have to wonder where their next meal is coming from.”

As part its pandemic response plan, the city created a number of programs, most visibly Grab & Go meals at hundreds of Department of Education sites provided , due to a combination of health and economic factors, without the need for sign-up or identification, and Emergency Home Food Delivery for people who could not go out, have no one to go out for them, and cannot afford private delivery options. These programs, which continue operating today, distributed the bulk of the 200 million meals.

“I represent the neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19 and this pandemic has exposed the many disparities that exist in our city none greater than access to food, Councilman Francisco Moya said. “We need to continue to put resources that will ensure everyone across the city from children to senior New Yorkers have access to food. Programs like GetFoodNYC and prioritizing funding for emergency food providers are critical as we work to recover from COVID-19. No one should ever have to worry about their next meal.”

The program has proven vital in southeast Queens, home to so many of the frontline workers that kept the city operating during the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has created an unprecedented level of food insecurity,” Councilman I. Daneek Miller said. “Communities of color have struggled as a food desert for years, and this pandemic has highlighted the need for access to affordable, healthy, and culturally competent food options. We are grateful for the swift action of the city to support New Yorkers in need, and for the partnerships that have allowed our local food pantries to remain well-stocked and meet these new levels of demand.”

Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz lauded the food program, as well as the people who have made it work for nearly a year.

“At the start of the pandemic, my office was inundated with calls from residents frantic about food insecurity,” Koslowitz said. “I thought at the time, that the task of addressing this problem was monumental, if not impossible. But Get FoodNYC got the job done. Kudos to all the individuals involved in making sure that New Yorkers didn’t go hungry.”

More from Around New York