Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Giving food to Staten island vulnerable communities during the lockdown

Volunteers ready the food for distribution in Staten Island. Photo by Alpha Kamera

In an emergency health situation, food is as important as medicine. So, says two African American women who are giving back to their communities. 

Christiana Jabbie the head of  Being Human organization has joined Wendy De Shong Neuhalfen who is the CEO of New Direction Services to feed vulnerable communities in Staten Island as COVID-19 ravages the borough.  

“This is a time when we all need to come together and support our communities,” De Shong said. “Since the virus struck, people have been sitting home jobless and starving. It’s important to work together and help one another.”

The two agencies have been providing food for hundreds of vulnerable communities in Park Hill, Clifton and other areas of Staten Island New York throughout the lockdown. The neighborhoods are home to largely migrants, African Americans and less privileged communities. 

 The borough now has the second highest rate of documented infections, just behind the Bronx, with 21 cases per 1,000 people, according to data from the city health department.

Almost 380,000 New Yorkers have tested positive for the virus as of June 4  and 11,000 of them live on Staten Island. 

“At this stage, with so many cases coming in across the five boroughs every day, it’s hard to pinpoint what’s going on in Staten Island,” said Patrick Gallahue, a spokesman for the New York city’s Department of Health and Hygiene.    “We need to pay close attention to that borough.”

Neuhalfen, the CEO of New Direction Services said she founded the agency 20 years ago to address food insecurity among the elderly and the less privileged on Staten Island. The pandemic led her to scale up the agency’s response to help the community. They have been supporting over 1,000 families weekly.

“This is a time when we all need to come together and support our communities,” she said.

 Jabbie said they give out hundreds of bags of food, cartoons of eggs, vegetables, fruits and other consumables weekly as a way of giving hope. 

“The Park-Hill community needs this food because it’s a middle-class community,” she said. “It deserves more support because it does not have access to support given to other boroughs in New York city as a result of its location.”

The volunteers of the two organizations worked tirelessly to interact with dozens of beneficiaries during the distribution. But they never ignored safety  regulations.

“All our beneficiaries and our volunteers must wear their masks and follow the six feet distancing,” Jabbie said.  “We don’t allow overcrowding and any risky health practice during the process.”

The food distribution also includes awareness messages on Covid-19 to avoid practices that will spread the virus. 

Janet Freeman, a Liberian American living in Staten Island, appreciates the food support. She said it has saved her a lot of stress in trying to buy food since she lost her job in a local pub recently due to the virus.  Freeman believes the neighborhood is neglected by the city authorities. 

“We have to take the long journey to Manhattan or Brooklyn for jobs, leisure and other key city facilities,” she said. “Sometimes, we feel like we are not in New York. Covid-19 has even made our situation worse.”

The organizers said food donations will continue even when the pandemic ends.

 


Tags


Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Overseas Singaporeans have pandemic obstacles to voting

Yifan Yu July 9, 2020

Proximity sensors and hygiene stations are the “new normal”

Joanna Lin Su July 9, 2020

 Tour ticket vendors miss the hustle and bustle of Times Square

Narkwor Kwabla July 8, 2020

Dengue outbreak could be a greater threat than covid in Singapore

Yifan Yu July 8, 2020

Corporate bankruptcy: ‘A story that’s not going away’

Gaurav Sharma July 7, 2020

Beijing reopens as the second wave of coronavirus dies down

Hannah Zhang July 6, 2020

Masks or no masks?

Bohao Liu July 5, 2020

Varsity Flu

Madeline Gunderson July 3, 2020

Rail travel in China is popular during the pandemic and filled with safety measures

Bohao Liu July 3, 2020

Brazilian international student caught in US travel ban.

Marina Guimaraes July 3, 2020

MTA faces crisis following COVID shutdown

Daniel Girma July 2, 2020

Easter Market goes back to its roots

Kyla Milberger July 2, 2020

China’s Airline Industry Aims to Lure Back Passengers with Unlimited Flight Pass

Zishu Sherry Qin July 1, 2020

US corporate debt soars during coronavirus outbreak

Gaurav Sharma June 30, 2020

In Singapore, gay pride goes online

Yifan Yu June 29, 2020

The Hair Room reopens

Shiyu Xu June 29, 2020

A second wave of the coronavirus creates travel woes in Beijing

Hannah Zhang June 29, 2020

Despite a few bumps, NYC is social distancing more than not

Joanna Lin Su June 29, 2020

Backyard music lessons

Madeline Gunderson June 28, 2020

Experts say ISIS exploits chaos of global pandemic to rebuild

Marina Guimaraes June 26, 2020

Cutting through COVID

Thomas Hengge June 26, 2020

Venezuelan government leaves residents stranded in U.S. during pandemic

Maria Abreu June 23, 2020

Vulnerable communities fear eviction as COVID-19 rent morotorium comes to an end

Jonathan Sarabia June 22, 2020

Beijing is China’s new epicenter for the coronavirus

Hannah Zhang June 22, 2020

Clock is ticking for NYC restaurants even as outdoor dining resumes  

Gaurav Sharma June 20, 2020

Michigan hair salons are back in business

Kyla Milberger June 17, 2020

Seafood markets in China lose business over new COVID-19 scare

Bohao Liu June 17, 2020

China resorts to street vending to revive its economy

Hannah Zhang June 16, 2020

The East Village is open! Well, sort of

Thomas Hengge June 15, 2020

My trip home during the pandemic

Zishu Sherry Qin June 15, 2020

Popular India Square “won’t be the same again” 

Gaurav Sharma June 13, 2020

Feds will not raise its key interest rate until 2022 and project slow recovery

Zishu Sherry Qin June 11, 2020

Despite pandemic, thousands of Syrians protest against government as economy collapses

Marina Guimaraes June 10, 2020

On the frontline of two deadly viruses

Narkwor Kwabla June 10, 2020

Bronx fish market struggles to stay afloat during pandemic

Daniel Girma June 9, 2020

Venezuelans leave behind a country in crisis only to encounter a new crisis in New York

Maria Abreu June 8, 2020

China promotes street vendors to reboot the economy

Bohao Liu June 8, 2020

For the developmentally disabled, COVID-19 brings new challenges

Kyla Milberger June 7, 2020

Hong Kongers gather despite COVID-19 ban on Tiananmen vigil

Yifan Yu June 4, 2020

Army returns home after completing COVID-19 mission in New York 

Maria Abreu June 4, 2020

Ailana’s life in quarantine

Talgat Almanov June 3, 2020

Venezuela has another obstacle: the pandemic

Marina Guimaraes June 3, 2020

China’s two session political gathering sets priority for COVID-19 recovery

Zishu Sherry Qin June 1, 2020

24-hour vending machines distribute masks to help Singapore contain the spread of COVID-19

Yifan Yu June 1, 2020

Getting married during COVID-19

Shiyu Xu June 1, 2020

New York City’s federal courts go remote and the incarcerated suffer

Daniel Girma June 1, 2020

Airlines canceled thousands of flights during pandemic

Joanna Lin Su May 31, 2020

Australia’s Covid-19 tracing app struggles after launch

Bessie Liu May 31, 2020

COVID-19 fuels fruit packers strike in Washington State

Madeline Gunderson May 29, 2020

Boston springs slowly back to life

Thomas Hengge May 28, 2020