Taking a Firm Stance Against Hunger
April 12, 2023 | by Cody Gohl |
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Volunteer Profile: Simone Jones Simone Jones serves at Food Bank's Community Kitchen & Pantry in Harlem as part of the Serve The Moment Service Corps in partnership with Repair the World. Why is Food Bank’s mission important to you? "As a native New Yorker, I grew up seeing the tragic impacts of food insecurity in our city. Food Bank’s mission is important to me because food insecurity is unjust, and all New Yorkers deserve consistent access to nutritious food." What was your most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank? "On my first day of volunteering, Food Bank's pantry team was so welcoming. They taught me exactly what goes into each pantry bag and why. I felt like a part of the team from Day One!" Tell us about a meal that is special to you and your family. "Mac and Cheese is a special dish for me and my family. We make it from scratch using my grandmother's recipe!" Who inspires you to serve? "Volunteering has always been a huge part of my life. After my experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa, I promised myself that I would continue to serve my community at home. The communities that I've created both abroad and at home in NYC inspire me to serve."
Food Insecurity |
Food Bank For New York City’s 2022 Pride Month theme is #ProudlyFed. For us, this means we not only serve the estimated 1 in 5 LGBTQ+ New Yorkers struggling to put food on the table, but that we do it with joy, love, and pride. We also recognize that food insecurity in the LGBTQ+ community is often compounded by things like workplace discrimination, healthcare inequality, and housing insecurity. A citywide survey conducted in 2017 found that over 18 percent of LGBTQ+ New Yorkers had experienced homelessness, with these numbers soaring up to 60 percent for individuals who identified as Black, Hispanic, transgender, or gender non-conforming. Over 20 percent of respondents also reported that they had been denied a promotion, not hired, or been forced to resign from a job due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. To address these diverse and varied challenges, we partner with and distribute food to community-based organizations that not only feed our LGBTQ+ neighbors, but work to provide them with free legal services, educational opportunities, healthcare enrollment assistance, and nutrition workshops. One such organization is Make the Road New York, a Food Bank member agency that serves immigrant, working-class, and transgender communities throughout Brooklyn and Queens. Make the Road doesn’t shy away from difference; on the contrary, the group finds power in bringing together New Yorkers from all different walks of life to advocate for collective change. To learn more about the group’s unique approach to service, we spoke with Mateo Guerrero-Tabares, the Trans Justice and Leadership Program Manager at Make the Road New York. Mateo pictured at Make the Road New York’s office in Queens. Photo credit: Feeding America. Mateo found his way to Make the Road in 2010 after arriving in New York City as an undocumented minor. He began his journey as both a client and volunteer, receiving aid from the organization to adjust his immigration status and stay permanently in the United States. Make the Road quickly became a “political home” for Mateo and was one of the first public spaces in which he felt comfortable embracing his identity as a transgender man. As he told us: “It was very special to be able to say, ‘Mateo, he/they pronouns’ and be uplifted and cared for in such a beautiful way.” Volunteers working the weekly food distribution at Make the Road New York. Photo credit: Feeding America. Now, in his role as the organization’s Trans Justice and Leadership Program Manager, he’s working to bring that same level of solidarity and support to the immigrant and transgender New Yorkers he serves, especially when it comes to providing them with reliable access to fresh, nutritious food. In fact, Mateo started a special “bike brigade” at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to deliver groceries to nearly 400 families a week. It was a way to sustain the sense of togetherness that has long fueled Make the Road’s mission to build a more equitable future for New York City’s most marginalized residents. “I want our members to be able to define what it means to exist in New York — and not just survive — but have a dignified life,” he said. “That sense of pride comes from a place of resiliency and community.” Mateo pictured at Make the Road New York’s office in Queens. Photo credit: Feeding America. We couldn’t be prouder to partner with and provide food to organizations like Make the Road New York that put our LGBTQ+ neighbors first. For more on how we serve these New Yorkers now and throughout the year, click this link. You can also donate directly to our Pride Month fundraising campaign to help raise crucial funds for organizations just like Make the Road. Give here. *** A special thanks to Feeding America for partnering with us on a suite of stories featuring LGBTQ-serving agencies in our extensive member network of over 800 food pantries, soup kitchens, and campus partners across the five boroughs. View the stories here.
Volunteer Profile: Anna Lynn Oppenheimer Anna Lynn (pictured center) started volunteering with Food Bank in March 2022 and has since become a regular volunteer at our Community Kitchen & Pantry, serving over 20 hours! Why is Food Bank’s mission important to you? "I am passionate about ending hunger in New York City. I strongly believe that access to healthy food is a fundamental human right and I admire the innovative ways that Food Bank works to provide New Yorkers with access to food and other important services and resources to help alleviate poverty." What was your most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank? "I was fortunate to be a volunteer the first day that the Community Kitchen was able to welcome volunteers again. It was inspiring to see Food Bank in action helping New Yorkers and also to meet the dedicated staff who had been courageously working on the front lines throughout the pandemic." Tell us about a meal that is special to you and your family. "I have been in New York for nearly 30 years, but as a Louisiana native, I love cooking, eating, and sharing a big pot of gumbo with family and friends. We even named our puppy “Gumbo,” in honor of our favorite meal. " Who inspires you to serve? "I am inspired by my fellow New Yorkers, those who are in need of some sort of assistance and those who are able to lend a hand to help others. We are fortunate to live together in this amazing, if complex, city and anything we can do to lift one another up benefits us all."