Meng and Director of Mayor’s Office of Food Policy Kate MacKenzie Deliver Emergency Food Relief to Queens Food Pantry La Jornada Through City’s P-FRED Program

Oct 13, 2020
Press Release
Congresswoman continues effort to help families facing food insecurity
QUEENS, NY – Today, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) and Director Kate MacKenzie of the Mayor's Office for Food Policy visited Queens food pantry La Jornada to deliver emergency food assistance.
 
Through the City’s GetFood Pandemic Food Reserve Emergency Distribution Program (P-FRED), Meng 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 (USDA) 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, 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.
 
“I thank the Mayor and Director MacKenzie for working with me to bring emergency food supplies to La Jornada,” said Congresswoman Meng. “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. 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, the City of New York 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 (CDBG) 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. Pantries interested in participating, especially those that serve the highest need communities, should email FoodReserve@cityhall.nyc.gov
 
"Far too many New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet,” said Kate MacKenzie, Director of the Mayor's Office for Food Policy. “The Pandemic Food Reserve Emergency Distribution Program is designed to ensure that food pantries in the City's hardest hit areas have great quality fruits and vegetables. Through this program, putting a healthy dinner on the table can be just a little bit easier for our hungry neighbors."
 
“As our City continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, this administration is committed to using every tool at our disposal to ensure that no individual goes hungry during these challenging times,” said Human Resources Administration (HRA) Administrator Gary Jenkins. “In many ways, the GetFood Pandemic Food Reserve Emergency Distribution (P-FRED) Program is emblematic of our City’s approach to rebuilding New York City with an emphasis on equity and inclusion foremost – focusing our efforts in high-need neighborhoods experiencing the greatest levels of food insecurity. We look forward to continuing to work with our sister agencies across the City to provide food banks and pantries with the tools necessary to combat food insecurity challenges in their communities."
 
"Our community faced food insecurity long before this pandemic, which has only exacerbated the threat to Queens residents and seems to have no end in sight,” said Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz (D-Queens). “The federal government's recent changes to the funding of crucial food pantry organizations such as La Jornada, has created a void for families who rely on these services to survive. I want to thank Congresswoman Grace Meng for her advocacy on behalf of thousands of families, as well as the Mayor and Director MacKenzie for ensuring that La Jornada can continue feeding our neighbors in this time of crisis.”
 
"La Jornada has been feeding our most vulnerable New Yorkers, both before and during this pandemic, when their assistance has become increasingly essential and a lifeline to many members of our community,” said Assemblymember Ron Kim (D-Queens). “I am glad all of our colleagues could be here today to witness this firsthand. The city's commitment in continuing regular food deliveries to La Jornada is vital, and we hope this visit makes it all the more clear why they must not take any actions that would negatively impact this service."
 
"La Jornada food pantry in Flushing has served New Yorkers with emergency food assistance for the duration of the pandemic,” said Councilmember Peter Koo (D-Queens). “We have worked with them and other pantries in our community to provide critical funding, space, and support so that they are able to continue operations, but it will take a sustained commitment from all levels of government to ensure our neighbors are fed during these difficult times."
 
Jenkins, Cruz, Kim and Koo were in attendance as well.
 
“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.”