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In honor of our Serving Up Holiday Cheers Program, we took a virtual seat with our partner, City Harvest to talk about what’s going on and upcoming in 2021. Crack your Mermaid Pilsner and read along now! OMG, are you out? No worries, beer finder or to-go is here.

1. We are so excited about Serving Up Holiday Cheers Program! What other programs are you running going into the holiday season? 

This holiday season, City Harvest has put together an official City Harvest Holiday Gift Guide. City Harvest is accepting items on an ongoing basis for our gift guide that is anticipated to raise $10,000+, enough to help us feed a minimum of 27,000 New Yorkers in need. 

2. Can you tell us more about City Harvest’s current objectives and priorities going into 2021? 

City Harvest’s objectives have remained steadfast throughout 2020: to meet the increased need as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to do this, we have set several goals for FY21,to maximize the amount of emergency food we will be rescuing and delivering, in order to feed as many New Yorkers in need as possible. In FY21, we plan to rescue and deliver 118 million pounds of food, which is nearly 320,000 pounds per day. About 57% of this food will be produce. As we enter 2021, City Harvest will continue building out virtual volunteering opportunities to help meet these poundage goals. 

3. Can you walk us through some current statistics around food shortage in and around the city?  

Even before the pandemic, 2.5 million working-age New Yorkers were struggling to make ends meet. Now, the number of New York City residents experiencing food insecurity will balloon by 44% during the pandemic, according to projections by Feeding America. Among NYC children, food insecurity is expected to spike by 64% since the pandemic began. That means there are projected to be 521,000 children experiencing food insecurity in the city.

Just as the COVID-19 and economic crises hit New York’s communities of color the hardest, so too has the food insecurity crisis. The New York City neighborhoods with the highest COVID-19 death rates are overwhelmingly communities of color and are also projected to experience significantly higher food insecurity rates more than white, less impacted neighborhoods. 

The five neighborhoods that host our nine Mobile Markets — Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn; Northwest Queens; South Bronx; Washington Heights, Manhattan; North Shore of Staten Island — are all located in Black, Latinx and Asian communities. Each of these communities suffers from high rates of food insecurity and unemployment in normal times, and we now see firsthand these increased rates as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, visitcityharvest.org/programs/mobile-markets/.

4. What are a few ways consumers and communities can get involved during the time of COVID?  

City Harvest offers virtual volunteering events and employee engagement opportunities, like Virtual Food Drives, which are customizable fundraising pages, and our Daily News Food Drive, which runs through January 22, 2021. These are great ways for consumers and communities to get involved during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also begun to engage groups of up to five or less for in-person volunteering. For more information, visit cityharvest.org/programs/donate-food/

5. Are there any virtual happenings that are on the horizon that people can tune into or host themselves?  

Hosting Virtual Food Drivesis a great way for people to engage with their networks, while raising funds to help feed hungry New Yorkers. If people don’t want to host a Food Drive of their own, they can choose to donate to City Harvest’s annualDaily News Food Drive, which runs through January 22, 2021.  

In terms of virtual happenings that people can tune into, on Wednesday, November 25, 2020 at 7pm, EST FOX will be hosting City Harvest’s The Great New York Foodathon, hosted by City Harvest Board Member and Food Council Chair, Geoffrey Zakarian. There is an incredible array of talented chefs, entertainers, and personalities participating in this year’s event, including Alex Guarnaschelli, Andrea Bocelli, and Christie Brinkley, among others. For more information, visit cityharvest.org/events/