Effort to combat food insecurity continues in Queens neighborhoods hit hard by COVID-19

Councilman Francisco Moya distribute health bucks to hundreds of families from East Elmhurst and Corona to help combat hunger. (Photo by William Alatriste/NYC Council)

In his ongoing efforts to address the health and economic disparities in some of the communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Councilman Francisco Moya’s initial distribution of “health bucks” proved so successful, his office is currently planning a second event prior to Thanksgiving.

Hundreds of families and seniors in Corona and East Elmhurst received the health bucks to purchase fresh food at the GrowNYC Greenmarket at Elmhurst Hospital on Oct. 19 to combat hunger.

“Every action we can take to provide families with access to fresh food not only addresses food insecurity but also creates healthy and sustainable communities,” Moya said. “Our health bucks distribution and zero-waste resources will better equip the very communities that were hardest hit by COVID against future pandemics and natural disasters.”

The event featured Cornell University Cooperative Extension, which hosted a cooking demonstration of a healthy recipe, and NYC Sanitation’s Waste Zero, which provided reusable bags and shared how a community can reduce their environmental footprint, including through recycling and composting.

(Photo by William Alatriste/NYC Council)

“Whether visiting a community composting site or simply carrying a reusable bag, there are actions large and small that all New Yorkers can take to reduce waste, and when we do that, the whole city benefits,” DSNY Commissioner Edward Grayson said. “I want to thank Council member Moya for inviting us to share best practices in his district and encourage all New Yorkers to visit our website to find more ways to get involved in keeping our neighborhoods safe and clean.”

Moya was the first to bring health bucks to District 21 and has increased funding each year adding another $5,000 for this year alone.

“At a time when our neighborhoods are still recovering economically from the impact of COVID-19, many are still struggling daily with food insecurity,” NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst CEO Helen Arteaga Landaverde said. “Events like this one are both vital and necessary.”

The additional health bucks distribution will take place before Thanksgiving prioritizing families in the 11368 and 11369 ZIP codes. For more information, call Moya’s district office at 718-651-1917.

Participating families will gain access to the freshest, most nutritious fruits and vegetables the region has to offer, according to GrowNYC President and CEO Marcel Van Oyen.

“For nearly 15 years, GrowNYC has worked with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to distribute health bucks,” Van Oyen said. “As an elected official investing in the health of his community, Council member Moya is a wonderful partner. GrowNYC accepts SNAP/EBT/P-EBT and health bucks at all of our Greenmarkets, farm stands and Fresh Food Box sites throughout the five boroughs, so that all New York City residents can access locally grown, healthy food.”