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Catholic Charities of Staten Island Partners With Freshdirect to Provide Food to Those in Need

Posted on May 17, 2020 by  |  Share

boxes of food

Fresh Direct, in partnership with Borough President James Oddo,
re-launched their program to provide free meals for
Staten Island families during the coronavirus outbreak. (Photo Courtesy of FreshDirect)

By Joseph Ostapiuk | jostapiuk@siadvance.com
silive.com

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Weeks into the second round of a partnership forged with FreshDirect by Borough President James Oddo, Catholic Charities of Staten Island continues to provide emergency food to Staten Island families in need — with three food pantry services scheduled to be held this upcoming week.

Catholic Charities of Staten Island will hold its regular food pantry services at 120 Andersen Ave. on Monday, May 18 from 1 to 3 p.m., and Friday, May 22 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Additionally, a mobile food pantry will be utilized on Tuesday, May 19, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., and will stop at multiple locations — including Immaculate Conception R.C. Church located at 128 Targee Street and the Anderson Avenue location.

The food pantry assistance run by Catholic Charities of Staten Island were created in direct response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and will continue to operate to meet the needs of Staten Islanders, according to Michelle LaVignera, the director of Social Services for Catholic Charities of Staten Island.

In addition to “an increase in the frequency that people need food,” LaVignera said, “We’re also seeing people coming to us who previously did not need to utilize food pantries.”

Even with the expanded food pantry services run by Catholic Charities of Staten Island, the demand has increased so greatly that “even on odd days” when pantries are not being run, “people knock on our door asking for food.”

The food pantry services held on Mondays and Fridays are first-come-first-serve, and LaVignera said she has been recommending individuals come at the beginning of the two-hour windows the organization has set in place.

With mitigating the potential spread of the coronavirus a prominent concern, she said the physical layout of the building at 120 Andersen Ave. enables social distancing by allowing only one person come to the front door at a time. She added that “people have been very respectful” in regard to adhering to social distancing throughout the process.

For the safety of the staff and those lining up for food, LaVignera said masks are required, though she said “all but very few people have had their masks" in recent weeks.

The rising need of food across New York City during the coronavirus pandemic has been exacerbated by about a third of food pantries closing across the city, reports said, as long lines of those in need have stretched around blocks in recent weeks.

FreshDirect initially delivered 400 free daily meals to various community organizations in the borough, the Advance/SILive.com previously reported in late March, and that effort was renewed by Oddo late last month — upping the daily meal total to 500 across Staten Island.

Other food pantries, mobile markets, and home-delivery services for low-income families on Staten Island have been in operation since the outbreak as well, including Project Hospitality on Staten Island’s North Shore and Our Lady of Good Counsel food pantry in Tompkinsville.

“FreshDirect is extremely thankful to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York City Sanitation Commissioner and current food czar Kathryn Garcia, and Staten Island Borough President James Oddo for his support of Operation 5-Borough Food Drive,” Larry Scott Blackmon, vice president of public affairs at FreshDirect, previously told the Advance/SILive.com. “We are very grateful to continue the distribution of food to communities in Staten Island with Borough President Oddo, whose partnership has proven invaluable.”

Catholic Charities of Staten Island is currently receiving approximately 1,000 boxes of food each week that contain “a mixture of fresh produce and nonperishable food that will allow families to make up multiple meals out of it a week,” LaVignera said.

On a weekly basis, about 350 of these boxes are distributed to families with “an emergency need for food” between the Monday and Friday time slots, and additional bags of nonperishable food are delivered through the use of the mobile station. The organizations’s food pantry dates back to March, just weeks after the city’s shutdown.

The rest of the boxes of food provided to Catholic Charities of Staten Island are being distributed to other nonprofits and parish-based organizations that are directly serving not only their congregation, but also the rest of their communities.

“And that’s really our long-term focus — to continue to do work like that — where we act as the organization that receives a quantity of food that we can then distribute to at least partially support some of these organizations,” LaVignera said.

According to LaVignera, despite metrics often associated with the coronavirus improving in recent days and weeks, the long-term effects of the virus — specifically regarding how at-need families will be able to cope with financial concerns — will be felt long after precautionary measures are lifted across New York City and the rest of the country.

“We are working on our long-term plan now. We know this need is going to last well beyond" the duration of the city’s shutdown, LaVignera said. “I think this is going to be along the scales of how people were impacted after Hurricane Sandy.”

“I mean ... that impact has lasted for years,” she said.

This story was originally published by SILIVE

 

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