Queens Groups Join Forces to Tackle Food Insecurity

By Leader Observer Staff | [email protected]

Three Queens based organizations are joining forces to help alleviate food insecurity through grocery deliveries to families. 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the rate of food insecurity among children in Queens is double the national average, 10 percent nationwide and 21 percent in Queens. Food insecurity comes in various forms, but it often presents as disorganized eating patterns due to lack of funds or resources. 

Zara Charitable Foundation partnered with Mannan Supermarkets and the Gaton Foundation of Richmond Hill to increase their impact through collaboration. Since March 1, the group has been providing fresh and culturally relevant food deliveries to families in Queens. They plan to continue the effort for 12 months, which will help over 200 families in the process. 

Their initiative was started simultaneously with President Biden’s “White House Challenge to End Hunger and Build Healthy Communities” which seeks to end hunger and diet related diseases by 2030 by addressing existing disparities. 

Several studies found that food insecurity can be especially detrimental to children by affecting their memory, test scores, behavior and attention spans. While the city provides free breakfast and lunch to the 1.1 million children in the public school system, not all children may have access to regular meals when they go home. 

“Zara believes that community entities can be the recipe to help Queens families make ends meet, while helping students access nutrition to improve health and education outcomes,” according to their published report. “Queens students, particularly students of color, are disproportionately affected. As a result, families must worry about not only performance in school and at work, but also about where their next meal will come from.”

Mannan Supermarkets has locations in Jackson Heights, Jamaica and Ozone Park where local residents can purchase halal food products. Through the initiative, Zara is underwriting the cost of twelve months of fresh groceries that Mannan will provide for families in Richmond Hill that are being served by the Gatton Foundation. 

The Gaton Foundation is hosted by Richmond Hill High School, and is made up of current faculty and alums. According to the woman founded and led group, they serve over 350 families every month through four resource partners and over one hundred volunteers. 

Gatton’s Give&Go Grocery Project is partnered with Revel, the electric rideshare company to facilitate emissions-free grocery deliveries to those in need. They also work with the Salvation Army and Commonpoint Queens, a community based organization that hosts a range of programs for children and families. 

A 2022 survey conducted in New York found that food insecure households will regularly make financial trade offs related to food such as stretching food, eating less, buying cheaper or generic groceries, delaying or forgoing other necessary expenses and borrowing money or using credit cards in order to feed their families. 

The study also found that food-insecure New Yorkers are twice as likely to have unsatisfactory health and may delay or skip medical care. 

While various food assistance programs exist on the federal, state and local level, not all food insecure New Yorkers are eligible due to tight requirements. The average monthly SNAP payment is also $121, which is not sufficient in an area where cost of living is high such as NYC. 

“Working collectively, a brighter spotlight can be shined on this critical topic, bringing new community partners and resources together to fight hunger, improve educational outcomes for students while strengthen community health and helping local families thrive,” according to Zara’s Foundation report. 

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