Thanksgiving was bountiful in 1,617 Fort Greene homes thanks to 225 spirited volunteers. They delivered turkeys, holiday sides, seven tons of beautiful vegetables and fruit, and weekly grocery packages to 1,200 seniors and other vulnerable people who are homebound due to the threat of COVID–19. 400 more families got food from the team at pantries in public housing developments.
Saturday’s effort brought the weekly food packages to nearly 40,000 delivered during the pandemic by the coalition led by One Community, the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership, and Clinton Hill/Fort Greene Mutual Aid.
Executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Brooklyn Partnership Chad Purkey said: “All the volunteers have made me a little teary-eyed as I think about all the time and work, they have put in, all the lead-up planning, coordination etc. – all so that they could help a neighbor have a nourishing Thanksgiving. For most of them, they’ve been giving their all to this for months now and making nearly 40,000 home deliveries of free groceries possible!”
When Governor Cuomo announced rules requiring the most vulnerable to not go out, even for food, it became clear that many Fort Greene public housing residents would be without a safe way to get food. One Community organized to deliver them groceries. The first March weekend, a team delivered produce to 209 households. Each week, more homebound vulnerable neighbors were served and since May, 1,200 households receive groceries and produce every week.
Says Jed Marcus, founder of One Community: “Among the many things that are remarkable about our trying times is how easily our neighbors get to “Yes!” Our food delivery system draws on 32 partner organizations. On a normal week we field over 70 volunteers and workers. We depend on tons of food from six different organizations. As our demand has risen, they have kept pace. Local businesses, government workers, elected officials, and donors are eager to solve whatever challenges we encounter. This is what we mean by one community.”
Together with NYCHA residents, volunteers from the mutual aid group bag at a warehouse space donated by the Brooklyn Navy Yard and deliver. One Community and the Myrtle Avenue group manage the program and provide trucks, supplies, and equipment. Food comes from The Campaign against Hunger, City Harvest, Recovery House of Worship, the Sylvia Rivera Pantry, St. John’s Bread and Life, the Food Bank for New York City, NYCHA, and Greene Grape Provisions. Refrigerated warehouse space is provided by Mark Agger and Brooklyn Fish. Duggal Imaging and the NYPD’s 84th and 88th precincts have been delivering to NYCHA developments alongside the other volunteers. Outreach and delivery to residents’ doors is being done by mutual aid volunteers, the Farragut, Ingersoll, Whitman and Atlantic Terminal Tenants Associations, the Farragut Food Club, Fort Greene Mutual Aid, Shaquana Boykin and the Neighborhood Coordination Officers of the NYPD’s PSA 3. Funding is provided by Robin Hood, City Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo and scores of generous individuals.
While the food is vital, the seniors have been particularly grateful to receive masks – 5,200 were distributed – saying that they were a special acknowledgement of their need to be protected and maintain some contact with the outer world.