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IRC in NY's emergency food response

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As an experienced crisis intervention organization globally, the IRC in NY transferred that expertise to our own community in the face of COVID-19 conditions and economic fallout. Food insecurity was among the first acute concerns for IRC clients once stay-at-home orders were put in place in New York City. Many IRC clients are employed in hospitality and food service, some of the industries hit hardest and quickest by COVID-19's economic fallout. IRC's resourceful teams jumped in to launch new logistics, supply chains, and delivery protocols to keep clients safe and fed throughout this crisis.

Working quickly, the IRC partnered with World Central Kitchen to provide free prepared meals in neighborhoods with high concentrations of IRC clients to ensure high impact in combating food insecurity. The IRC has even been able to hire clients to work at a few of these meal distribution sites to help provide them with some income during these difficult days. To see more about an IRC client, Dina, and her work at a World Central Kitchen site, click here. Food distribution sites can offer up to 2,000 meals per site, per day, and operate in strict observance of social distancing guidance to ensure safety for all. Clients are able to access a week's worth of food per each member of their household to minimize the need to leave their homes for food and alleviate budget concerns when feeding families. World Central Kitchen secured a van for delivery and has served hot meals twice weekly to 60+ housebound families.

As part of our food security activities, IRC in NY is also providing families across New York City with weekly grocery supplies. This is being done both by delivering groceries directly to client households—targeting those families that are unable to reach food access points or unable to leave their homes—and through IRC-operated food distribution sites. Led by staff and volunteers, the IRC also collaborates with local partners like Tanabel to deliver groceries and prepared meals directly to housebound clients. Tanabel is providing ample and culturally-sensitive deliveries of fresh and shelf-stable products to families throughout NYC. Through these efforts, IRC is delivering food to over 80 families each week and distributing packed grocery bags at food access points to 200 families.

The IRC had hoped to find success in this initiative, and as ever, clients say it best:

“My mom and I are in tears—thank you so much. We appreciate all the help, it means a lot.” Jeemim, IRC Economic Empowerment client and World Central Kitchen recipient

IRC intends to maintain this essential program as long as food insecurity is a concern. To support this vital work, please consider the following:

  • Able to deliver groceries to IRC families? Please email VolunteerNY [at] rescue.org
  • Extra reusable grocery bags at home? Donate them by emailing info [at] tanabel.com
  • Donate! IRC's dedicated Emergency Fund, used exclusively for client needs, is essential to preserving and expanding this initiative

To support refugee, asylum seeker, and immigrant resilience through COVID-19, please click here.