Barclays Center Partners with Food Bank NYC to Host Mobile Pantry

Volunteers hand out free frozen chickens in plastic bags to New Yorkers. Photo By Ariama C. Long

The Barclays Center plaza has been home to countless demonstrations and clashes over racial injustices within the city’s police department in the last few months since the death of George Floyd. Today’s opening of the mobile food bank for hungry New Yorkers brought in a much needed sense of community. 

Food Bank for New York City sponsored the distribution of food and other essentials at Barclays Center, on July 30, with the support of partners from Key Food, Tyson Foods, Brooklyn Public Library, Target and Snipes. 

Founded in 1984, Food Bank has been the city’s major hunger-relief organization throughout the five boroughs, and has been working overtime to support hungry New Yorkers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Joana Acosta Food Bank representative. Photo By Ariama C. Long

“There were already 1.2 million New Yorkers who were food insecure, and then when the pandemic hit, that number just jumped,” said Joana Acosta of Food Bank. “Because of unemployment, the amount of people in need of assistance, more and more people, more and more families who are out of work and furloughed started turning to Food Bank for some help.”

Food Bank reports that the vast majority of soup kitchens and food pantries have been serving more New Yorkers during the pandemic than they were previously and many agencies have seen their number of visitors double. 

Acosta pointed out the partnerships from Barclays’ neighboring companies, like Target, which sent volunteers to help distribute food stuffs, and Snipes, that donated branded sports face masks for the cause.  

They handed out items free of charge without registration or ID checks, including fresh produce, shelf-stable pantry items, and 20,000 pounds of chicken meat donated by Tyson Foods to approximately 250 to 500 families. 

One individual rolls up a cart for free groceries. Photo By Ariama C. Long

Many individuals carried away cartloads or boxes of groceries. What couldn’t be carried in hand was placed in giant black or orange plastic bags, or loaded into waiting vehicles of family members in some cases. 

“I got off the bus just now, the 41, and the lady was telling me,” said Tina S., an educator and resident of Red Hook West NYCHA housing project, while waiting with her acquired groceries for her husband to pick her up. “Thank God you know, just making ends meet. I was just about to spend my last $20.” 

She said that the food bank opening was right on time for her and her family. Her neighborhood in particular, she said, has been under heavy construction when about two weeks ago their entire block was without water because the construction company suddenly hit a pipe in the early morning.  

“It takes a village,” she said, “if we all stick together, things can get done.”

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