5 Fruits and Vegetables a Day the Colorful Way!
April 16, 2021 | by Food Bank For New York City |
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Food Assistance |
Welcome to The Core, Food Bank For New York City’s new blog! We created this space to dive a little deeper into the subjects, stories, and stakeholders that power our mission. You may be familiar with Food Bank as the city's largest hunger relief organization, but our work actually spans a great deal more. So, The Core will give you insight into how we operate, who we serve, and what kinds of impact we make across all five boroughs of the greatest city in the world. But don’t worry, we won’t just be talking about New York! Anyone and everyone with a hunger for food justice, equity, and advocacy will find a home here where they can learn new ideas and read some fantastic stories. To that end, we’ll have content covering a variety of subjects, including: Activism, Nutrition + Health, Financial Empowerment, and Stories from the Field. So, let’s meet these categories and figure out how we use them here at Food Bank and what they’ll mean to you. Activism Activism is at the heart of everything we do. To fight hunger is to actively fight poverty, which includes standing up for and supporting low-income New Yorkers and their families. This means not only getting them the resources they need to survive and thrive, but also advocating for policies that serve their best interests. So, we’ll be tagging stories that deal with both activism and advocacy in the hunger space. We’ll share information about the fights we’re taking on and the ones waging at the local, state, and federal levels. To get involved with our own efforts, join Food Bank’s action team. Nutrition + Health Another important facet of our work is nutrition, specifically as it relates to education, health and equity. Our nutrition program focuses on teaching folks how to establish and maintain healthy habits on a limited budget, which helps to fight hunger while addressing some of poverty’s key contributing factors – in both the short and long term. So, we’ll be giving you your fill of yummy recipes, nutrition tips, and resources exploring the relationships between food, health, culture, and poverty. Food Assistance In this category, we’ll explore not only the topic of food assistance, but also SNAP benefits and enrollment as well as insights into the various factors that impact emergency food providers across the city. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to find food whenever they need it. To do that, we’ve created an array of tools New Yorkers can use to source free meals and connect with local pantries and soup kitchens for immediate food assistance. If you’re looking for food assistance now, check out our virtual food locator. Financial Empowerment Financial empowerment refers to the sense of security that comes from being in control of one’s finances. Have you ever been down to your last 20 bucks, with more month to go before your next check? Not a great feeling. Well, for many low-income New Yorkers, living in a city as expensive as ours makes that feeling a constant companion. To help the New Yorkers we serve feel more financially empowered, we offer an array of financial resources, from free tax assistance for the working poor to SNAP enrollment and community-based financial coaching. We designed these tools because the truth is, fighting hunger takes more than food. If there’s a change in tax policy that could impact New Yorkers or if we’re leading a free (virtual) workshop on financial management, we’ll make sure to cover it here. We’ll also provide tips anyone can use to become a better budgeter! Research The hunger space is a dynamic one, so it’s important to stay on top of all the latest research to ensure that our messaging is current to our cause and relevant to our communities. Food Bank’s proprietary research has long been industry-leading, but we also rely on reports from other prominent institutions to inform the work we do. To keep you up-to-date, we’ll be sharing all of our latest research findings on this blog. Stories from the Field Here, we’ll feature photographs, interviews, and videos from the field. We work with over 1,000 food pantries, soup kitchens, and schools across the city, and our partners on the ground are the ones who keep this whole operation running. And trust us – they've got plenty of stories to tell! We’ll also share stories from those who experience hunger firsthand so that you can better understand what food insecurity actually looks like. To make sure you never miss a single anecdote, hit subscribe to get fresh updates on The Core as soon as they arrive.
Not all women menstruate, and not all people who menstruate are women. So, let’s explore some gender-neutral products that menstruators can use without feeling pulled to either side of the gender spectrum! Check out our finds below, and make sure to peep the bottom of this article for some resources geared toward transgender, genderqueer, non-binary, and gender nonconforming menstruators. Thinx Boyshorts If you like the look of a classic boy short, you can’t go wrong with this pair from Thinx. Made from durable yet cozy materials, this underwear is designed to be “moderately absorbent,” while also being discreet and gender-affirming. Plus, proceeds from every purchase through Thinx goes toward providing menstrual care products to those in need, which is a win-win for all of us! CozyFolkInnovations Reusable Cloth Pads There are a ton of fantastic gender-neutral pad vendors on Etsy, but we were particularly drawn to the playful options from CozyFolkInnovations. Not only are these pads reusable, but they’re available in a wide array of patterns, from the decidedly girly to the masculine and everything in between. The brand also sells moisture-wicking pads, which could be great for those who run hot! GladRags Day Pads Another solid pad option is the Day Pad from GladRags. Unlike other pads you may find on the market, these are built with a holder and two inserts, which allows you to modify the design based on the absorbency you need. It’s worth noting that the all-cotton Day Pad is eco-friendly and cost-efficient, marking it as a great option for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Aisle Briefs Made from an ultra-soft combination of Tencel, organic cotton, and spandex, these briefs from Aisle are a gender-neutral dream. Plus, they’re outfitted with a special bonus absorbency booster, so should keep you dry no matter the flow. And if you like these undies, you’ll be glad to know that the brand also sells menstrual cups, pads, and liners. Lunette Menstrual Cup If you’re looking for an all-purpose menstrual cup, you may want to consider this beauty from Lunette. Available in several different colors and sizes, this reusable cup is not only environmentally friendly, but totally safe to wear for upwards of 12 hours a day. And just as an FYI, the cup is made with soft, medical grade silicone that is BPA and chemical free. TomboyX Leakproof Underwear TomboyX is an awesome gender-neutral brand popular with folks outside the binary. Though the company sells an assortment of briefs, boxers, and boy shorts, we’re putting the spotlight on its line of leakproof underwear. Though not as absorbent as other sanitary products might be, this underwear is great for light days and incontinence. Simply choose the cut and color you like, and go from there! Resources to check out! Now that we’ve gone over our products picks, we wanted to round things out with a few resources you can use if you’re struggling with period shame or gender dysphoria while menstruating. Everyone’s relationship with their period is totally unique, and no one gets to tell you how to menstruate. Use REFUGE Restrooms to find safe, gender-neutral bathrooms whenever you need them. Download an app like Clue to track your menstrual cycle so that you can anticipate and prepare for feelings of gender dysphoria caused by your period. Visit URGE to learn more about gender equity as it relates to menstruation. Check out the provider database at TransPulse to find queer- and trans-friendly physicians and doctors. Call the Trans Lifeline (877-565-8860) to connect with trans operators trained to offer radical support and care to members of the transgender community.
Food Insecurity |
Happy Ramadan to all who celebrate! This month-long season is a sacred and important time for Muslim communities around the world, including the ones we serve here in New York City. Though perhaps best known as a time for fasting, it’s also a time for gathering with family and friends around an Iftar meal. It’s a time of charity, of giving back. And, most importantly, it’s a time to reenergize for the year to come, to set intentions and manifest abundance for your neighbors and yourself. How does all of this connect back to Food Bank? Well, the spirit of Ramadan is baked right into our mission. As the Director of our Community Kitchen & Food Pantry Sultana Ocasio recently told me, “During Ramadan, I could walk into a mosque where no one knows me and get fed... [and that] informs my work throughout the year in terms of serving folks in a way that’s not prohibitive or judgmental. It’s about welcoming people to the Community Kitchen the same way you’d welcome someone into your home.” As practicing Muslims will know, this idea of open-hearted charity (or Zakat) is a major tenet of Islam. Though required year-round, the practice takes on new meaning during Ramadan. For many, performing Zakat through food is an important rite of the season, whether by providing dried dates and rice to loved ones at an Iftar meal, or donating time, money, and resources to food pantries and soup kitchens. Though fasting during Ramadan isn’t necessarily about reflecting on the systemic nature of hunger, it does provide folks with an opportunity to think critically about their relationships with food. “It gives you empathy, though that’s not the purpose,” explained Ocasio. “Feeling your body weak with hunger and thirst, you can’t help but think of those who don’t have a choice, who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.” At Food Bank, we’re in a unique position to mobilize that empathy in service of one of the largest Muslim populations in the United States. According to a report from the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, nearly 800,000 Muslims live in NYC, which means that approximately 22% of all of America’s Muslims live right here in the Big Apple. This diverse populace includes descendants of Muslims who have lived in the US since before its founding as well as immigrants from over 75 different countries. To serve our Muslim neighbors, we provide halal meat at our Food Pantry and also partner with halal agencies across the city to get culturally appropriate food into the hands of those who need it most. But having the food itself is just one piece of the puzzle – we’re also doing the work to build trust within these communities to let them know that our halal meat actually adheres to halal requirements. “I wear a scarf and approach people with the greetings of Salaams. When I approach to offer halal meat to clients, there’s still a level of doubt. They can’t believe it’s really halal," says Ocasio. “If you normally get halal meat, you usually go to a specific halal butcher, so coming to a place like Food Bank, you may not trust that it’s actually halal.” To get the word out, Ocasio has spoken to local Imams to let their congregants know about the halal food available at our Kitchen, but says it’s been a slow process. In her words: “It takes time to develop that trust, it really takes time.” But for Ocasio, and for us, it’s time well spent. By developing that trust, we’re not only able to better distribute our halal resources, but we’re also able to destigmatize some of the shame associated with standing on a pantry line, which Ocasio says can be challenging for certain communities. “I think a barrier for some folks is the actual visibility of going to a food pantry. In some cultures, going to a food pantry is not considered a big deal at all. But for other cultures, folks will get talked about in their community. For a lot of people who are immigrants, coming to this country meant that they’re supposed to be making money and providing resources to their families back home... [so the question becomes] how could you come to this country and go on a food line? The visibility of receiving food or admitting it can be extremely difficult for some people.” Though we can’t dismantle this shame overnight, we can do our part to chip away at it over time. We do this by providing resources that affirm the cultures, beliefs, and traditions of the folks we serve. We do this by training our staff to be sensitive to the unique needs of our clients. And we do this by centering and prioritizing the dignity of everyone who walks through our doors. Whether you observe Ramadan or not, these questions of inclusion, equity, and access are important ones to think about. They’re certainly ones we ponder throughout the year, and ones we hope to answer in tandem with you. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to fighting hunger, and so our work must be nuanced and hyper-focused on the lived experiences of our neighbors. In truth, there is simply no replacement for meeting people where they’re at, asking what they need, and delivering it to them without judgement or shame. To support us in this work and to get involved yourself, click here. And feel free to join us for “Iftar on the Go” an initiative with NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Islamic Relief in which we’ll be providing free halal Iftar meals at our Community Kitchen in Harlem. Distributions will be on April 15, April 22, April 29, and May 6 at 4 pm.