FOOD INSECURITY OF OUR SENIOR CITIZENS AND OTHER VULNERABLE COMMUNITY MEMBERS MUST BE ADDRESSED
According to Gregory J. Morris of the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center and the Center for an Urban Future, there are options the city can utilize to combat food insecurity during this time of crisis, such as:
*Repurpose senior centers into community kitchens to combat food insecurity
New York’s nearly 250 senior centers and affiliated sites, which provide more than 7.5 million meals each year, should be transitioned into community kitchens to produce meals in support of older adults and other vulnerable community members in need. Under normal circumstances, these sites, operated by exceptionally skilled and too often underpaid professionals, are responsible for the food intake and nutrition of thousands of older adults. They are also capable of producing take home meals as needed during weekends and holidays. With additional personnel and provisions, these kitchens can double or triple current meal production by expanding their hours of operation, and utilizing a “Grab and Go” style of meal distribution.
*Hire laid-off food service professionals to boost staffing of community kitchens and increase output of take-home meals
With the mandated closure of restaurants and bars, there are food service professionals who are available for hire right now to supplement existing staff, and likely interested vendors whose businesses have been affected by the shutdown. The benefits of having senior centers serve as the focal points of meal production are two-fold:
1) Senior centers are trusted and reliable service hubs physically embedded with vulnerable neighborhoods including public housing developments.
2) Directing economic resources to communities-in-need during a time of crisis supports the immediate welfare of residents, businesses, and service providers, and creates the opportunity for longer-term interest and investment in historically underserved and under resourced neighborhoods.
I support both of these ideas as an effective and straightforward means of combating food insecurity and pledge to pursue them in City Hall if elected.