Four Steps You Can Take to Help Food-Insecure Families

While we’re all aware of the job losses triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, a less publicized aspect of the crisis is the skyrocketing level of food insecurity across the country. According to Feeding America, the number of people without adequate access to nutritious food is likely to grow by 17 million in 2020, including nearly seven million children. Bringing that number down starts in our local communities—so we’ve compiled a few actions you can take today to help combat food insecurity in Brooklyn, NYC, and beyond.

 

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 Redistribute your P-EBT. The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT) is a new Federal program to provide food benefits to children who will miss out on school meals due to the pandemic. Those of us with children in NYC public schools (and most charter and parochial schools) will receive a $420 P-EBT card, which can be used in the same way as SNAP (food stamp) cards. The cards are non-transferable, so if you’d like to redistribute your benefits, use the money on the card and then donate the equivalent amount to an organization that’s helping to mitigate food insecurity. Some local options include:

 

Donate your FreshDirect bags. Some grocery services like FreshDirect have stopped taking back bags during the pandemic, meaning that you can put yours toward a good cause. Councilman Brad Lander’s office is collecting reusable bags for use by emergency food providers. You can drop bags off at the following sites and times:

  • Park Slope: 256 13th St, M-F, 9 AM to 6 PM

  • Cobble Hill: 359 Henry St, Mon-Wed, 9 AM to 6 PM

  • Kensington: 3 Avenue C, Saturdays at 4 PM

 

Volunteer. There are a myriad of ways you can donate your time to combat food insecurity. A few options include:

  • Help reach out to New Yorkers who qualify but do not currently have access to food assistance programs like SNAP and WIC. NYC Service has more info on the Reducing Hunger Service Initiative.

  • Pack and distribute meals to seniors, unhoused people, and others experiencing food insecurity. New York Cares has hunger-related volunteer opportunities that you can filter by borough and day of the week.

  • Work toward eliminating food waste. City Harvest has a variety of opportunities, from food rescue to clerical work to nutrition education.

  • If none of these options suit your needs, The Hunter College New York City Food Policy Center has a page listing lots more opportunities.

 

Spread the word. Boost these resources on your social media channels for anyone who may need them, and then seek out the local pantries or fridges in your area to volunteer or donate!

  • Camp Friendship has created this food pantry map that’s available in printable PDF form in both English and Spanish.

  • In Our Hearts NYC has a map of community fridges across the five boroughs.

  • NYC.gov has a list of Emergency Food Assistance Program providers in each borough that are open as of August 10, 2020.

  • Hunger Free America has a Brooklyn Neighborhood Guide to Food & Assistance, which you can download in English and Spanish (Guía De Alimentos y Asistencia), and which contains information on SNAP/Food Stamps, Meals for Kids, Senior Meals, Soup Kitchens, Food Pantries, Farmers’ Markets, and more.

 

For food donations, in addition to the organizations above, you can drop off at the following local bars and restaurants:

  • Abilene Bar 442 Court St.. (Court Street & 3rd Place)
  • American Cheese 444 7th Ave. (7th Ave. & 15th St.)
  • Angry Wade's: 222 Smith St (Smith & Butler)
  • Commonwealth Bar: 497 5th Avenue (12th Street)
  • Freddy’s Bar: 627 5th Avenue (bet. 17th & 18th Street)
  • Gowanus Gardens: 256 4th Ave. (4th Avenue bet. Carroll & President)
  • Hollow Nickel 494 Atlantic Avenue between 3rd Avenue & Nevins St.)
  • Mission Dolores: 294 4th Ave (Bet. President & Carroll)
  • North Pole Bar 428 Bergen Street (Bergen Street (5th & 4th Ave)
  • Saint Eves: 471 12th St. (12th Street bet. 8th & the Park)
  • Skylark: 477 5th Ave. (5th Avenue & 11th Street)
  • South Bar: 629 5th Avenue (bet. 17th & 18th Street)

 

The Old Stone House is also accepting donations Friday–Sunday from 11 am–3 pm.