Respecting the past, Building the future

New Food Pantry in Western Queens

The nonprofit Queens Together has announced  that it is partnering with Brighter Bites NYC to launch a new Western Queens pantry, managed by local grassroots organization The Connected Chef (who may be familiar to Western Queens folks from their participation in the healthy living events at Socrates Sculpture Park in happier times). The effort marks the largest fresh produce distribution in New York City to date during the COVID-19 crisis, Queens Together said in a press release, adding that the initiative will safely provide 2,000 families throughout Western Queens with fresh produce at a time that food insecurity in the community is at an unprecedented high.

In a great example of how nonprofit organizations are adapting to new demands in these challenging times, the partnership was created remarkably quickly. On April 17, Brighter Bites reached out to Queens Together for help. Their regular distribution of fresh produce to families in Queens, which usually takes place through the public school system, was inoperable due to the COVID-19 crisis and the closure of school campuses. By April 24th, Queens Together had created a grassroots solution with The Connected Chef and began implementing the steps to safely provide 2,000 marginalized families with fresh produce.

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (far right)


With Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas in attendance, distribution began Tuesday April 28th from the Plaxall Gallery warehouse in Long Island City. Queens Together said that they chose The Connected Chef due to their extensive experience in local distribution and delivery systems of groceries to families in need. This is an ongoing program, and Queens Together co-founder Jaime-Faye Bean indicates that they hope the initiative will grow. “Between loss of income, fears related to immigration status, and the risks associated with leaving home at this time, many families are not able to access fresh, nourishing food in adequate quantities. We are so gratified to have found this solution for a great program to continue an essential service to Queens families, and we are actively seeking to expand the program to include more recipients.”

The Queens Together initiative was formed in early March 2020 by chef Jonathan Forgash and Sunnyside Business Improvement District executive director Jaime-Faye Bean. In its first five weeks, they have delivered over 16,000 meals to hospital workers and people facing food insecurity across Queens. To learn more about Queens Together initiatives to create, implement, and manage novel systems that address hunger and harm to local economies, visit their website at www.queenstogether.org.

Pantry collaboration with The Connected Chef and Brighter Bites NYC

Photo Credit: Jaime-Faye Bean. Pantry collaboration with The Connected Chef and Brighter Bites NYC, 4/28, The Plaxall Gallery in LIC

Clare Doyle is a graduate of the M.A. program in Museum Studies at the University of Leicester, UK. She also holds a Graduate Diploma in Library and Information Studies as well as a B.A. in Archaeology and History from University Dublin, Ireland. She has worked for 30 years in library reference publishing in New York. Clare is the Vice President of Green Shores NYC, a non-profit group that advocates for a cleaner, greener and more connected waterfront in Astoria and Long Island City

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