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Coronavirus Update: All New Yorkers Can Now Get Free Meals; COVID-19 Food Czar Kathryn Garcia Discusses Her 'Biggest Concern'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that all New York City residents can now get free meals at one of the city's 435 grab-and-go food locations at schools.

Adults with children will continue to be given free meals from 7:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Adults without children can now also get free meals from 11:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m.

To find a school in your area distributing food, call 311, check or text the word FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877 to find a location near you.

Kathryn Garcia

"Anyone who needs food, anyone who's hungry, can come to these 435 sites. You can get all three meals for yourself and your family for free. No one will be turned away. I want to really emphasize that. There's no charge, and no one will be turned away."

De Blasio previously named Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia Covid-19 Food Czar to make sure no one goes hungry.

"My biggest concern is down the road. It's just the level of need," Garcia told CBS2's Hazel Sanchez. "You know that you were going to have a lot of people who are ill with the virus, maybe not be critically ill but they will still be home. They will still be people we don't want to be out in public. We need to make sure we're getting food to them."


In the new world of social distancing, Garcia says her role is to ensure folks who are normally food insecure, like those on public assistance, are reconnected to services, including the vulnerable senior population instructed to stay inside.

"So where you used to maybe go to a senior center to get a meal, we make sure that's getting delivered," Garcia said.

Garcia says she and her staff are also looking out for the newly unemployed, maintaining the Department of Education's grab-and-go meal program for students, and stocking and staffing the 600 food pantries across the city.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"We are using city staff that might not be deployed at this moment," Garcia said. "Right now the food supply is very stable coming into the city."

What's helping is that 40% of the city's food used to go to restaurants which are now closed. So wholesale distributors are repackaging their food for retail.

PHOTO GALLERY: A Look Inside NYC's Viral 'Warzone'

"We are making sure that we're getting prepared for the fact that other parts of the country that are the bread basket could be impacted by the spread of the virus," Garcia said.

She said she's connecting with the philanthropic community to help fund food programs and working with the TLC organizing drivers to help with critical food deliveries.

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