NYC Hunger Coalition honors Martin Luther King, Jr. with "MLK Serve-athon"

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was known for his historic civil rights leadership, but before he died he was about to begin a hunger campaign.

And the New York City Hunger Coalition used the day of observance to start the annual "MLK Serve-athon" at 15 locations around the city.

Dr. King once said "Everybody can be great because everybody can serve".

And inside Broadway Presbyterian Church, there was a heavy mix of greatness and gratitude.

Chef Michael Ennes gave up the sun and sand of Miami 15 years ago for the concrete jungle that is New York City.

He operates Broadway Community Inc., serving the homeless and hungry.

It's not glamorous but sure is gratifying.

"Not many jobs do you get where people bless you, people thank you and really mean it," said Ennes.

Dr. King fought for civil rights and voting rights, but also worried much about the poor, the overlooked and underserved.

Before he died he was preparing for his 'Poor People's Campaign'.

"Dr. King would be appalled if he were to alive today to see the level of hunger, homelessness and inequality in New York City," said Joel Berg of the New York City Coalition against Hunger.

He says one in six New Yorkers are hungry, one in four children. It's been called an invisible epidemic.

"As long as one in six New York City residents can't eat, we're not all free," said Berg.

But no one is giving up, just as Dr. King never gave up. No more children learning on empty stomachs, no more parents living on a starving budget.

Dr. King is gone but in many ways, the struggles of yesteryear are still prevalent today.

And the coalition's program to serve the hungry continues three times a week, 52 weeks a year, an act of generosity that would make Dr. King proud.

A New York City food bank also honored Dr. King's legacy Monday with a day of service.

200 volunteers gathered at the Food Bank for New York City's warehouse and distribution center in Hunts Point in the Bronx to sort, organize and repack food products for distribution to families in need citywide.

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