As you might have heard with the All-In Challenge, many people around the country are struggling to feed themselves and their families. The Bronx is one of the most famous boroughs of New York City, and currently, it’s people are being affected gravely by the current COVID-19 pandemic. New York City has become a sort of epicenter for the spread of the virus, but in neighborhoods like The Bronx, they’re facing challenges that areas such as Manhattan do not have to contend with at this time. This is due to the fact that The Bronx is considered one of the poorest areas of New York City and this makes the community more vulnerable to the potentially fatal virus.
“They’re facing a pandemic, and it’s affecting them the most, but they still have smiles on their faces,”
Hawk Newsome, cofounder of the Peoples Food Program and BLMGNY, and Chivona Newsome, cofounder of BLMGNY, the Peoples Food Program, and candidate for congress, have had their hands full as they try to help out as many people as possible in their beloved borough the Bronx. "They’re facing a pandemic, and it’s affecting them the most, but they still have smiles on their faces,” says Hawk as he explains what he’s attempting to do to assist others during these difficult times. Hawk says that he’s found his purpose in life by being able to be of service to others, and that’s why he’s running the Peoples Food Program to help feed those in need throughout the community. Hawk and his fellow volunteers saw the urgency for this when discovering who has been affected the most during the pandemic.
Although anyone can catch the Coronavirus, some people are more at risk of experiencing severe symptoms than others. In The Bronx, people face two primary challenges: low income and lack of healthy food. This area of New York is known as a "food desert," which means that the community lacks access to healthy, nutritious meals. Due to the scarcity of quality nourishment, more people in this area suffer from health issues like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and asthma. Aside from the lack of healthy foods, people in The Bronx do not have the capability of not going to work, so they’re putting themselves at risk just to keep the roofs over their heads and food on the table.
“Poor people can’t afford to take off work”
“Poor people can’t afford to take off work,” Hawk told us, “So we’re trying to help alleviate some of the need to go to work by providing people with food.” There are currently over 600,000 people in New York City who receive EBT food assistance, but Hawk and his organization want to make it easier for people to receive food without putting themselves or others at risk. Before the pandemic, they started a mobile soup kitchen to feed those in need, but now they’re trying to do even more for the community.
When the pandemic started and the city began to go into lockdown, Hawk and his fellow volunteers started making phone calls and reaching out to people in the community to see if they could help out by picking up and delivering food, groceries, and medicine. As the demand continued to increase, Hawk started to recruit more volunteers, but he started to notice a few new challenges to arise. “You have volunteers who would call 20 or 30 [people] and quit, so that was the toughest thing,” Hawk explained, “because the more people we call, the more food we can deliver.”
Hawk’s organization has access to phone lists of people who need the help, but he’s still working on spreading awareness to everyone that the Peoples Food Program exists. On top of the challenge of reaching those who need the assistance, they’re going through a lot of trial and error to figure out the most efficient way of delivering the food to those in need. Right now, they’re trying different routes to deliver to as many people as possible and on some days they can deliver food to 50 or 60 people, but they know they could help more people with the right resources at their disposal if they had the means.
Hawk and the Peoples Food Program are also urging the public to help fund the work they are doing through their GoFundMe page. The program needs money to purchase food wholesale in order to help feed people, and they want to ensure that they are buying healthy food that will keep people strong during this outbreak. On a regular basis, Hawk is looking into local groceries and other businesses to find the best prices, but even at the best prices, their funds are running low. If enough money is raised, they can also purchase another vehicle that will help increase the dispersal of food and feed even more people in The Bronx. Currently, they have raised a little over $19,000 of their $25,000 goal, so they are looking to find some new solutions to some of the problems that they are facing. Do you have an idea, suggestion or possible way to support their cause?