Photo Courtesy of Rep. Meng’s Office
“Because of COVID-19, people have lost their jobs and the Trump administration’s inability to lead this nation has meant additional challenges for my constituents. I hope today’s delivery will ensure La Jornada can continue its critical work to ensure that no family goes hungry,” Rep. Meng (c.) said.
By Forum Staff
Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) and Kate MacKenzie of the Mayor’s Office for Food Policy visited Flushing food pantry La Jornada on Tuesday to deliver emergency assistance.
Through the City’s GetFood Pandemic Food Reserve Emergency Distribution Program (P-FRED), Meng said she was able to secure 55 pallets of fresh produce to deliver to the food assistance organization. The items on the pallets included apples, potatoes, oranges, yams, kale, peppers, grapes, carrots, cucumbers, and celery.
The delivery comes in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision in September to change the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program’s (CFAP) Farmers to Families Food Boxes initiative that impacted which boroughs can be served by specific vendors. As a result of USDA’s sudden change, Meng said, many food pantries in Queens were suddenly without vendors or guidance on who they could contract with to purchase food supplies. This problem was further complicated because the USDA provided no overlap in service, or general assistance to those suddenly without a vendor, she added.
“USDA’s sudden changes to the CFAP initiative created confusion as food pantries suddenly found themselves with vendors who no longer could provide relief even though they have the capacity to do so. This left families in limbo and exacerbated existing hardship many face exposed to food insecurity,” Meng said. “Because of COVID-19, people have lost their jobs and the Trump administration’s inability to lead this nation has meant additional challenges for my constituents. I hope today’s delivery will ensure La Jornada can continue its critical work to ensure that no family goes hungry.”
Through the P-FRED program, City officials have said NYC is ensuring pantries are well-stocked with healthy food options, with a focus on fresh produce distribution in high-need neighborhoods identified by the Task Force on Racial Equity and Inclusion. This initiative is leveraging the federal Community Development Block Grant funds that were included in the City’s “Feeding New York” plan – an innovative way to use available resources to meet the deepest of needs.
So far, more than 300 pantries have received notification of the program and order forms, with plans to deliver over 31,000 more cases of fresh produce to emergency providers, totaling approximately 1.2 million pounds of fruits and vegetables.
“I am incredibly grateful to Congresswoman Meng, Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, Mayor de Blasio, and Director MacKenzie for delivering 55 pallets of fresh produce today, which will help combat food insecurity in Queens,” said Pedro Rodriguez, executive director of La Jornada. “My organization has been at the forefront of ensuring our neediest families have the healthy food they need and deserve. No one should ever go hungry, especially during a national health crisis. Today’s delivery is in part due to Congresswoman Meng and Assemblywoman Cruz who are invaluable allies and friends. Because of their leadership, many families will have fresh fruit, vegetables, and other staples to eat.”
Pantries interested in participating in P-FRED, especially those that serve the highest-need communities, should email FoodReserve@cityhall.nyc.gov.