Volunteer Profile: Simone Jones
May 26, 2021 | by Ann Pedtke |
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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.
A self-described author, entrepreneur, and lover of tiny hot dogs, Mary Giuliani has been lighting up the culinary world in NYC for the past 15 years. As the founder and CEO of Mary Giuliani Catering & Events, she throws lavish parties for the celebrity set, infusing her events with a cocktail blend of delicious food, quirky décor, and out of this world charm. You may have seen her on "The Rachael Ray Show" or even read her book The Cocktail Party: Eat, Drink, Play, Recover, but what you may not know about this foodie entrepreneur is that she's a passionate supporter of using food for good. In fact, she's not only been instrumental in bringing much-needed awareness to our COVID-19 emergency relief efforts here at Food Bank, but she's done a tremendous amount of work to raise money for the communities that need us most. That's why we're honored to feature her in our "Food in Action" series and to welcome her as the newest member of our culinary council. For more on the hostess with the mostest, check out our interview with Giuliani below! View this post on Instagram A post shared by Mary Giuliani (@mary_giuliani) How did you get started working in food? In 2000, I accepted a job at a catering company located in the East Village as a part time gig (while struggling to be an actress) and it took me all of one month to realize that I had indeed just stepped into my dream. I ditched the stage for the party and two years later opened my own business. Hey, if you can’t join ‘em, serve ‘em. How did you get involved with Food Bank For New York City? Besides attending what is known is NYC as THE BEST Gala every year, I was deeply drawn to the simplicity of the mission, and that is, to serve the food insecure with quality, dignity, and grace. View this post on Instagram A post shared by Mary Giuliani (@mary_giuliani) You've been an amazing advocate for us throughout the pandemic. What has motivated you? What good is any success if you can’t help or give back. The two have always worked hand in hand for me. While tearfully trying to figure out how I was going to keep my business alive (post pandemic), I ultimately prioritized that I needed to help those most in need first. It was through this strength I acquired while lending a helping hand that allowed me to set a clear strategy for how I was going to keep my business alive, now with renewed intent and purpose. What is your favorite meal memory? Cooking with my mother on Saturday for Sunday dinner. She routinely made the meatballs for the Sunday sauce on Saturday and taught me to “always leave two meatballs outside the sauce for someone you love.” And just for fun - if your bodega named a sandwich after you, what would it be called and what would it be made of? THE OY MARY: Katz’s Pastrami on Rye with Mustard and a side of Mozzarella Cheese Fries (for good luck). For more stories from chefs on the ground, make sure to check us out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Volunteer Profile: Jessica Acero Jessica Acero served as a VITA volunteer this year, inspired to get involved after her family was able to access free tax assistance through Food Bank's program. Why is Food Bank’s mission important to you? "I am inspired by the multiple ways Food Bank gives back to the community, including everything from food pantries to tax assistance." What was your most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank? "The most memorable moment while serving with Food Bank was getting to share how Food Bank's VITA Program helped my mom and me with our family's taxes. When my mom and I filed our taxes with Food Bank, the process was very easy, and we were even paired with a bilingual volunteer to help my mom out. That experience as a tax client inspired me to get involved as a volunteer and made me realize how much volunteering at Food Bank can help families like mine." Tell us about a meal that is special to you and your family. "Thanksgiving dinner is special to my family and me because it brings everyone together, family and friends. Everyone brings their food to share, and sharing food brings us closer together." Who inspires you to serve? "My mom inspires me to serve, along with everyone in my local community."