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In March of this year, Covid-19 shut down the South Bronx. Almost everyone was feeling the effects of the pandemic that month. But we knew that many in our community, who were already facing harsh food insecurity, were particularly vulnerable. 

The increased demand for food was exponential. Forty percent of New York City’s soup kitchens and food pantries shuttered during the peak of the pandemic. Pantries we surveyed reported over a 200% increase in demand.  Funding, volunteers, and PPE were scarce. Long lines stretched around the block, and clients waited for hours. Often, they were turned away due to shortages of food.

At Step Up for Better Living, we couldn’t turn our back on this dire need. In response, we launched our Emergency Food Fund, a campaign to immediately get food in the hands of families who needed it. Our approach was to provide organizations access to funding… starting with our $500k contribution to local food pantries.

To address this crisis in food insecurity, Step Up was able to provide $200,000 for BronxWorks, and $50K for Part of the Solution. Between those two organizations alone, we helped over 5,000 individuals receive food for their families. 

And that’s not all. We were also able to award $20,000 to a partnership of community groups and merchants working to continue critical Covid-19 relief efforts in Bronx Community Board 9. The funds went towards the distribution of hygiene packets and groceries for those in need. This included shelter families, veterans, and seniors in our community. Additionally, the grant helped support the New York City Housing Authority, and St. Paul’s Food Pantry.

Finally, we were able to serve almost 8,000 individuals at a series of pop-up distribution events around our community. You can read all about these pop-ups elsewhere in this month’s newsletter.

All in all, we’re deeply proud of the success we had with our Emergency Food Fund this year. But the work of stepping up for the South Bronx will continue in 2021… and we hope you’ll continue to be a part of making a difference! We couldn’t do it without you.