1.2 million residents - including one in five children - struggled at times to feed themselves before the pandemic, and that number is expected to grow as an estimated half-million New Yorkers have lost or are likely to lose their jobs in the immediate future.
"We will make sure everyone gets the food they need," Mayor Bill de Blasio said. "We will not allow any New Yorkers to go hungry."
The city already is handing out 250,000 free meals a day at schools and delivering 25,000 a day to senior citizens.
Officials expect to provide 10 million free meals in April and expect the need to grow to as much as 15 million in May.
The mayor appointed Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia to serve as "food czar" during the crisis.
The city has also contacted some 11,000 taxi and livery drivers to hire them to deliver meals to those who can't leave home, the mayor said.
While officials said the city food supply is stable, they also plan to create a $50 million reserve of as many as 18 million shelf-stable meals.
And in what de Blasio cast as another step to safeguard the food supply, the city is calling for stores to make customers wear face coverings in order to protect store workers against exposure.
"We need to keep each other safe. We need to keep these grocery store and supermarket workers safe," he said at a news briefing.
Residents can visit nyc.gov/getfood if they are in need.
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