Farm on Randall's Island helps feed hungry New Yorkers fresh food amid COVID-19 pandemic

RANDALL'S ISLAND, New York (WABC) -- It's harvest time on Randall's Island and a farm stand started to help educate kids about food has proven to be essential for New Yorkers amid the COVID pandemic.

Ciara Sidell is the Urban Farm Manager and said the farm started off small, but has continued to grow over the last 10 years and has been educational in nature.

But when schools closed In March, instead of lying fallow, the farmers planted more while anticipating there could be an increase in hunger issues.

'"Immediately it was clear we were not going to function in the same way as always, but we could certainly do something," Sidell said.

Once every week since April, produce is picked, packed up and delivered to a nearby pantry.

On Tuesday they had a little extra help from the Manhattan borough president and the NYC Department of Sanitation commissioner - who is now doubling as the city's COVID-19 Food Czar.

"We think one in four New Yorkers is food insecure now," said Kathryn Garcia said.

She says the 1-acre organic farm is pulling its weight.
"They are doing work that's helping their community and really leveraging a resource the city had but didn't think of it as a primary source of nutrition," Garcia said.

Melina Gonzalez, with Little Sisters of the Assumption food pantry, said eating organic is expensive and not something her organization's families can afford.

"So when they actually have access to organic vegetables, it's a privilege," Gonzalez said.

And while school visits to the farm are still on hold, lessons on serving the community are ripe for the picking.

"To be able to grow food right over the bridge from them, it feels really vital and essential to the work we do," Sidell said.

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Darla Miles has more on a community in Paterson that came together to open an oasis of fresh produce for residents.

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