On April 2, the Children’s Aid Go!Healthy team, in partnership with Westside Campaign Against Hunger, facilitated a pilot emergency food distribution initiative at the Children's Aid Bronx Family Center. One hundred families picked up pre-packed bags with a three-day supply of groceries, which included canned and fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, proteins, and shelf-stable milk. The distribution was done outside the center in a “grab and go” manner, limiting exposure and risk to the community, volunteers, and staff.
“I know Children’s Aid is one of the most well-respected nonprofits in the city working with children and families, and you all are so embedded in the neighborhoods,” said Alyson Rosenthal, senior director of programs at Westside Campaign Against Hunger. “We're trying to get as much food as we can to the families and individuals in New York City who are most in need. During COVID-19, to keep everybody safe, we're providing pre-packed bags of food and all of our food is healthy.”
In partnership with Westside Campaign Against Hunger, Children's Aid submitted a grant application to No Kid Hungry to continue to provide emergency food distributions over the next three months. In addition to the Bronx Family Center, the application requested funds for distribution to families in Washington Heights and Harlem. The unemployment spikes caused by the COVID-19 crisis has contributed to a surge in food insecurity in the communities Children’s Aid serves
Beth Bainbridge, SNAP-Ed project director, said the team is serving New York City families in a variety of ways during the crisis. In addition to this partnership, they continue to operate the Children’s Aid food box program, which gives families access to fresh produce. In response to the financial impact of COVID-19 on the communities Children’s Aid serves, the $10 per box fee is being waived and families are asked to pay what they can afford.
Existing food box clients were invited to participate in the food distribution pilot with Westside. “I am here to get some help for my family, we’re a family of five and I have twin girls and a son,” said Yanibel Vargas, a Bronx community member. “A lot of families including myself, we cannot go out and provide financially. You guys are a huge help to us, it’s very appreciated that you do this for the community.”
“I think in an ideal world, every single community-based organization that can share resources and amplify one another's work is doing so,” Beth said. “It takes a lot of coordination, a lot of effort. It's a really natural partnership and sometimes it takes a crisis to kind of kick [you] in the pants and have to get you to do things that you would have done eventually. We're working really actively to pull resources and to collectively serve our communities much better than we would've been able to individually.”
West Side Campaign Against Hunger is one of the largest food pantries and emergency food providers in New York City.