The Campaign Against Hunger Feeds a Neighborhood with More than Food

By Christine Berardi

The Campaign Against Hunger (TCAH) believes its mission to deliver nutritious food to New York’s most vulnerable residents is more of a calling than a job.

TCAH is working in overdrive throughout the COVID-19 health crisis to help supply food to those in need in the Rockaway, NY community. The organization has gone far beyond feeding one person or even 100 people.

Since March, TCAH has served more than 528,000 individuals providing food for a staggering 4.7 million meals. The organization is continuing its purpose and will stand by its neighbors until the issues of hunger and food insecurity are eradicated. COVID-19 and the stay safe at home orders have amplified an already difficult situation for many Americans including residents in Far Rockaway.

Superstorm Sandy which devastated the area in October 2012 and brought the conditions of the area into the forefront. TCAH was there lending a hand up. According to Tamara Dawson, Director of Programs, TCAH mobilized as a “first responder” to meet the needs of the community. Since recovering from Sandy, TCAH has been a partner and advocate for equitable access to healthy food for the Far Rockaway community which is federally labeled as a food desert. A food desert is an area where residents do not have consistent access to healthy food choices such as fresh fruit and vegetables.

“We are building and prioritizing a food ecosystem in the area to infuse heart-healthy food to address the health disparities as the community continues to struggle with poor health outcomes,” Dawson said.

She continued, “We were not surprised by the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. If anything, it has brought to light the disproportionate economic, social and health disparities faced by our communities, especially minority communities of color that have long struggled with food insecurity.”

In May, National Grid Foundation provided $500,000 in grants to 45 community organizations in New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island to help support hunger relief and human services for people in need and struggling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including those providing meals to families, and those assisting first responders.

National Grid Foundation, which is a proud supporter of TCAH, recognizes that the good work and assistance the organization provides year-round would desperately be needed during the crisis. With the coronavirus, quarantine and monumental unemployment among other issues, more people than ever are turning to food pantries.

The $30,000 COVID-Relief grant and 500 tote bags from the Foundation were put to immediate and good use. “The National Grid Foundation has bridged the gap for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable New Yorkers that otherwise may go hungry during the pandemic,” said Dawson. “The demand for food has increased significantly across the city. As such, TCAH is being called upon to provide food to individuals outside the scope of our normal operations. The grant has bolstered our food distribution efforts, so that vulnerable children, seniors, and newly unemployed adults have food on their tables.”

To keep up with the increased demand, a generous donor gifted a temporary warehouse space in Canarsie, Brooklyn to TCAH assisting with the food distribution efforts. It has become a hub where staff and volunteers pack and distribute 2,800 bags of food each day. A healthful bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, grains, milk and other staples for a balanced diet fill the tote bags.

National Grid partnered with the Foundation to offer even more help to TCAH. The Site Investigation and Remediation (SIR) Department had the opportunity to donate approximately 90 yards of topsoil (PFAS tested) to the TCAH National Grid Foundation Healing Garden. The department has been conducting remediation of a former Manufactured Gas Plant site on Long Island. The clean up involves excavation of impacted soils. After disposal of the impacted soils, clean soil is used as backfill. Due to a design change at the job site, the company had leftover soil and generously donated it to TCAH.

This is another example of the Foundation working side by side with company employees to help our neighbors. Thank you to SIR team members William Ryan, Sarah Aldridge, April Dubison and Pat Van Rossem for pivoting and thinking of a creative solution.

For more than seven years, National Grid Foundation has supported the Green Teens Internship Program. Staffed by local young people from the Green Teens Internship Program, the Healing Garden is located at TCAH’s Far Rock Urban Agro-Ecological Center. The Green Teens benefit from training in community outreach, sales, and farmer’s market business operations. This strengthens workforce development to help create pathways for youths with barriers to employment and champion youth success by demonstrating how to make change through hard work and skills training. This valuable model catapults youths into longer-term career training while gaining sustainable agriculture knowledge and skill-sets.

The Green Teens are hard at work at the Far Rock farm helping their community get through this crisis. The teens are planting and harvesting nutritious kale, bok choy, peppers, collards, tomatoes, cabbage, eggplant, lettuce, yellow summer squash, beets, parsley, mint and so much more for their neighbors.

Mother Theresa once wrote, “I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” She would be proud of The Campaign Against Hunger which is doing just that – creating many ripples to help change the world.

 

About National Grid Foundation:

National Grid Foundation is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to improving the quality of life, economic strength and environmental stewardship in National Grid’s service territory. The Foundation’s mission is to create opportunities for solutions to today’s educational and environmental challenges. By awarding grants to non-profits, the Foundation inspires and serves as a catalyst to a shared future, ultimately impacting and improving lives of the underserved in our neighborhoods.

In December 1998, KeySpan Energy formed KeySpan Foundation to enhance community giving efforts. Now known as National Grid Foundation, the organization has provided more than $27 million in grants to more than 1,000 organizations in local communities.

To find out more about the National Grid Foundation visit: www.nationalgridfoundation.com

To learn more about the Foundation’s partner organizations and how they have persevered during these unprecedented times, visit Destiny Newsletter.

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