Trinity Church Responds to Rising Local Hunger with Compassion Meals Program
Above: Trinity Church (located at Broadway and Wall Street) is one of nine food distribution sites in Lower Manhattan at which the Church provides meals to those in need, six days per week. Below: The Church has ramped up its food assistance in Lower Manhattan, from 15,000 meals in 2019 to more than 230,000 in 2021. While Trinity funds the purchase of all provisions required for these meals, volunteers are needed to help pack and distribute them.
Trinity Church has resurrected its Compassion Meals program, which provides breakfast, lunch, and dinner to those in need, on a rotating schedule, six days per week. The Church has always provided food help, reflects Lorelei Atalie Vargas, Trinity’s Chief Community Impact Officer. “But during the pandemic, when rates of food insecurity started to rise, we took a data-driven look at communities where food was a problem, particularly those where pantries had closed.” This translated into a huge jump in Trinity’s food assistance program, which distributed 15,000 meals through the Church’s Brown Bag Lunch program in 2019—a figure that jumped to 162,000 meals in 2020, and more than 230,000 last year.
In 2021, Trinity also launched its Neighborhood Support Initiative, which targets communities south of 14th Street. “Our goal is to focus on child, family, and community well-being,” says Ms. Vargas. “We are committed to co-designing everything alongside the communities we serve.” This emphasis has led Trinity to convene a Neighborhood Council, comprised of people who live, work, attend school, own businesses, or run not-for-profits in Lower Manhattan. Guided by the deliberations of this panel, Trinity’s food outreach program has partnered with six schools and two community-based organizations in Lower Manhattan, and now distributes meals through nine different sites south of 14th Street.
“We provide regular shipments of groceries to those nine places, where volunteers pack food and then distribute groceries,” Ms. Vargas notes, adding that Trinity Church itself (located at Broadway and Wall Street) is one of the distribution sites. “At Trinity, we are providing a combination of groceries and meals, as a continuation of the former Brown Bag program,” she says. Lunches are currently available at Trinity Church Monday through Saturday, while breakfasts are distributed Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. “We are also starting to pilot to-go dinners once per month on Fridays,” she explains. “This program provides groceries, as well as a to-go meals. Our goal is to offer this weekly by September.”
In addition to daily and weekly meals, Trinity also offers “holiday big packs,” which Ms. Vargas says are, “based on the need for joy, to allow people to bring friends and family together to break bread. For Easter, we partnered with seven additional sites in Lower Manhattan to provide Easter dinner with all the fixings to 1,800 recipients. We plan to do this again for Thanksgiving and Christmas.”
While Trinity fully funds the purchase of all provisions required for these meals, volunteers are needed to help pack and distribute them. “We welcome anyone who is willing to help,” Ms. Vargas says. “Volunteers do not have to be Trinity parishioners. We encourage anyone who wants to volunteer to visit the Trinity website, and learn more about how they can sign up to help. We need people who can pack lunches, and distribute breakfast and lunch on each day. We also need holiday volunteers, and people who are willing to help with grocery distribution.”
“The perception about hunger not being an issue as the economy recovers from the pandemic is mistaken,” Ms. Vargas observes, adding that a new report from City Harvest (New York’s largest food-rescue organization) recently found that local child hunger and food insecurity remains 55 percent higher than pre-pandemic levels. “In New York City, one in four children does not know where their next meal will come from. In 2020, families with incomes in the lowest quintile spent 27.1 percent of their income on food. When you consider that single moms of children under the age of five disproportionately comprise families in this quintile, and in the Lower East Side, single parents contribute 78 percent of their household income for childcare, it leaves you wondering—how do our families pay for housing, transportation, clothing and other basic necessities? The cost burden of basic living in New York City is overwhelming for our low-income neighbors.”
Nadler Sponsors Legislation to Clip Wings of Whirlybirds
Congressman Jerry Nadler has introduced federal legislation to address safety and noise pollution concerns caused by non-essential helicopter flights over New York, which have emerged as chronic source of irritation for Lower Manhattan residents in recent years. At a Sunday press conference held alongside the East River’s 34th Street Heliport, Mr. Nadler (flanked by fellow Congress members Carolyn B. Maloney and Nydia Velazquez, who are co-sponsoring his proposed law), said, “for decades, New Yorkers have been plagued by excess helicopter noise and have had their lives put in danger by non-essential flights. Despite numerous requests by my colleagues and I, the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] has refused to sufficiently act to keep our skies and our City safe.”
Survey Data Shows Ferry Ridership Became More Moneyed and Monochrome During Pandemic
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Chefs for Impact Open Garden to Teach Sustainability
Children squirmed through the speeches on May 9 for the opening of the Chefs for Kids community garden at Grand St. Settlement on the Lower East Side. After the program, while an assortment of elected officials and community leaders chatted, the kids checked out the good-smelling soil and peppered Chief Chef Educator Kristina Ramos (above) with questions. Any squirmy things in there?
The garden, an initiative from Chefs for Impact—a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness for a more sustainable food system—will give community members hands-on experience in learning about sustainably-grown food.
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Nadler Presses City Hall to Release Documents from 2001 about City Hall’s Awareness of Ground Zero Health Risks
United States Congressman Jerry Nadler is calling upon the administration of Mayor Eric Adams to make public previously unreleased City documents, which may shed light on what Rudolph Giuliani, who was Mayor at the time of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, knew about environmental health risks in weeks and months following of the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Federal Report Foresees Rising Water in Lower Manhattan
A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the federal scientific agency responsible for study of oceans, major waterways, and the atmosphere, predicts that Lower Manhattan will face increasingly frequent flooding in the decades to come.
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