NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Catholic Charities of New York marked Holy Thursday by distributing 1,600 meals to food-insecure New Yorkers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The 400 boxes of food and bags of produce were handed out outside the Betances Community Center in the Bronx.
Each box contained meals for approximately four people, and personal care supplies, household items, and pet supplies were also available.
"What people are going to get is cereal," Social Services director Paola Martinez said. "Rice and pasta, we are also giving. We are giving fresh vegetables. There is also canned food."
Additionally, each box included information about accessing food assistance, social services, and employment opportunities, and as well as information on how to participate in the 2020 census and the importance of doing so to secure funding for their community.
To keep everyone safe, the distribution was hosted outdoors with a staggered pick-up schedule to avoid crowding.
Boxes were also being delivered to senior residents, unable to leave their homes due to the virus.
"So that they have the food that they need but most important they can stay at home and not put their health at risk," Martinez said.
Catholic Charities Community Services and RDC Development, which is a joint venture between Wavecrest Management and MDG Design + Construction, organized the event.
Father Eric Cruz, Catholic Charities Regional Director, pointed out that during this Holy Week, New York is seeing record unemployment and increased food insecurity because of the COVID-19 crisis.
"We have an obligation to extend services and all types of support, physical, nutritional, emotional, and spiritual to be present," he said. "Residents, they say, need to know that doors are open for them."
Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities, attended the distribution and spoke about New York's increasing food insecurity in the wake of massive layoffs, how the archdiocese is aiding needy New Yorkers through this crisis, and the importance of charity in this scared time of the year for Christians.
"Our communities of Latinos and African-Americans are hardest hit by this coronavirus," he said.
Organizers said the event would not have been possible without generous donations from Fresh Direct.
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