Food Bank For New York City is proud to be the charity partner of this year's SHAPE + Health Women’s Half-Marathon, the largest women’s-only half-marathon in the United States. As thousands of women gather to run the Central Park Loop, Food Bank will be using the space to advocate for our "Woman to Woman" campaign, which serves the estimated 1 million women and girls facing poverty in NYC.
To help spread the word about this important cause, we've assembled a Food Bank running team packed with some pretty amazing women. Ahead of race day, we thought it'd be fun to connect with our runners and learn a little bit more about why they decided to team up with Food Bank.
Read the conversation below!
What motivated you to sign up for the women's half-marathon?
Latoya Shauntay Snell, host of the "Running Fat Chef" podcast: I signed up for the SHAPE+ Women's Half Marathon and 5.8 Miler because it feels powerful to run alongside other women. We are amazing, resilient, and capable of doing hard things. To be alongside other amazing athletes from different walks of life and moving for their own reasons means a lot to me.
Alessandra Simkin, Food Bank Junior Board Member: I am recovering from a pelvic injury that started when I was pregnant three years ago. In the weeks leading up to my due date, I had trouble walking a few city blocks. Even though it took years to start to feel better, the fact that I can even consider running the 5.8 mile Central Park Loop is amazing. When some of my peers on the Junior Board signed up to do it, I decided to join them to honor my own journey and to celebrate the strength and resilience of our bodies.
Alexis Teixeira, Food Bank Junior Board Member: I'm game to do close to anything to help support and raise awareness for Food Bank! This specific race happens to be the intersection of many of my passions: amplifying Food Bank, supporting female-focused initiatives, and running in Central Park.
Tell us a little bit about your partnership with Food Bank. What inspired you to join our mission to fight hunger for all New Yorkers?
Ashley Anderson, Food Bank Junior Board Member: I am so honored to serve on the Food Bank Junior Board. I've had longtime interests in food and supporting women. When I learned about Food Bank's "Woman to Woman" campaign and how Food Bank doesn't just provide food, but also period products, baby essentials, and basic hygiene items, I was inspired to combine my two interests and find a way to get involved.
Latoya: My partnership with Food Bank speaks volumes to me. Despite my parents trying their best to ensure that we had all of the essentials we needed growing up, there were some days where I questioned if and when our next meal would come in. Sometimes, we can only see the extremities of poverty and can only visualize a person living on the streets as a person going through food insecurity. Being able to eat without fear of wondering where your next meal is coming from is a human right and shouldn't be viewed as a privilege. We are better people when we don't have to stress about the bare essentials.
Olivia Briffault, Food Bank Junior Board Member: I've lived in New York my whole life and have grown up around and with stories of people who can't even afford to put food on the table each day. In my high school, some kids couldn't afford the $2 cafeteria meal plan after commuting 40+ minutes to get to school. Now that I am in a position to help, I want to make sure that every child has the opportunity to eat a full meal and that no parent has to worry about either feeding their child or feeding themselves.
How can everyday New Yorkers stand up for the estimated 1 million women and girls facing poverty across the five boroughs?
Alessandra: Going through changes as a woman is challenging, and it’s that much more challenging without access to basic essentials like period and hygiene products, diapers, wipes, and more. When it comes down to it, these products are just as important as food, and it’s amazing that the Food Bank provides opportunities for New Yorkers to get involved to ensure women and girls across NYC have access to these essential items. Stepping up to help is as easy as making a donation, starting a fundraiser, or checking out Food Bank’s wish lists.
Alexis: Given that over half of all emergency food program participants in NYC are women, this is a critical issue we have an opportunity to make better. Fundraising and donating to Food Bank’s “Women to Woman” campaign is easy and incredibly helpful. If folks are looking for a more tangible way to have an impact, Food Bank has created an amazing resource to enable purchases of personal care products through Amazon here.
And finally, what is something you wish people knew about hunger here in New York City?
Latoya: I wish more New Yorkers knew how much food waste we contribute to on a daily basis. The amount of food that we regularly toss out could end hunger for a great portion of the population. I ask people to be mindful of how we use it and make it available for the next person.
Ashley: I wish people knew how many women and girls face poverty right now in NYC, and how many are forced to choose between putting food on the table and buying period products. A lack of access to period products has a ripple effect, affecting health, school attendance, confidence, and so much more.
Olivia: During the pandemic, an estimated 1 in 4 New York City children faced food insecurity. If kids can't eat, how are they supposed to succeed in school, build the skills they need for the future, or even just enjoy time with their friends?
We are beyond grateful for all of the amazing runners who will be repping Food Bank at this month's SHAPE + Health Women's Half Marathon (especially all of our awesome Food Bank Junior Board members). To learn more about the big day (and Food Bank's "Woman to Woman" campaign) click this link.