Watch CBS News

Holiday Food Giveaways Needed This Year More Than Ever, As Pandemic Food Insecurity Persists

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The pandemic has left millions of New Yorkers hungry. A new report finds 1 in 7 city residents has struggled with food insecurity, with the Bronx hit the hardest.

That's where CBS2's Jenna DeAngelis went Monday. She visited a food giveaway to help struggling families this holiday season.

"I'm very thankful because right now I don't have my job," resident Kim D'Onofrio said.

Web Extra: Read Hunger Free America report (pdf)

During these tough times, friends are grateful they now have food to put on the table this Thanksgiving.

"It's a true blessing, especially with everything going on," Najette Montalvo said.

Thanks to a holiday food donation extravaganza at the Northeast Bronx YMCA.

"Daddy looks like a hero. He brought a bird home," Gun Hill resident Tom Capers said.

To get his turkey, father of four Capers waited in a long line that wrapped around the parking lot.

"As you can see here from the line, the need is certainly still there. We just really feel committed to continue to fulfill that role and help people out who are in need," said Dave Bass, Fresh Direct managing director.


City Harvest, Fresh Direct, Bronx native rapper Slick Rick, and elected officials are behind the annual event.

"Now more so than ever it's needed because people during the pandemic have either lost their jobs or food has been expensive," Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz said.

Up to 800​ people will walk away with a turkey, along with side dishes and produce, in one of many food giveaways across the city.

Another is at the West Side Campaign Against Hunger, which plans to distribute 7,000 turkeys this month.

"This holiday season we're seeing unprecedented levels of need in the community," West Side Campaign member Alyson Rosenthal said.

At the event, Hunger Free America unveiled a new report which found that in April 2020 more than 6 million New Yorkers didn't have enough to eat. The nonprofit, crediting federal aid, said that number has since dropped 56%.

"Even with the slight recovery from COVID, there are nearly 3 million people statewide in New York who live in homes that can't afford enough food," said Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America.

The report details recommendations at the city, state and federal levels to address the ongoing crisis.

"The most effective way to fight hunger isn't just giving out emergency food, it's getting people jobs with a living wage. It's also making sure they access SNAP and WIC benefits," Berg said. "There are hundreds of thousands of people in New York City, alone, eligible for SNAP and not getting it.

"Our main message today is the safety net worked. The massive increase in federal food and massive increase in federal cash benefits for working people, to struggling people worked, dramatically softened the blow of hunger in New York City and the New York City metropolitan area," he added.

In the meantime, many are giving thanks for the various events.

"It brings us unified. It gives us a little more hope," Montalvo said.

And happiness this holiday season.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.