NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday that all New York City residents can now get free meals at one of the city’s 435 grab-and-go food locations at schools.
Adults with children will continue to be given free meals from 7:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m.READ MORE: Hundreds Of Bodies Of COVID Victims Still Being Stored In Refrigerated Morgue In Brooklyn
Adults without children can now also get free meals from 11:30 a.m.- 1:30 p.m.
To find a school in your area distributing food, call 311, check NYC.gov or text the word FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877 to find a location near you.
“Anyone who needs food, anyone who’s hungry, can come to these 435 sites. You can get all three meals for yourself and your family for free. No one will be turned away. I want to really emphasize that. There’s no charge, and no one will be turned away.”
“My biggest concern is down the road. It’s just the level of need,” Garcia told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez. “You know that you were going to have a lot of people who are ill with the virus, maybe not be critically ill but they will still be home. They will still be people we don’t want to be out in public. We need to make sure we’re getting food to them.”
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In the new world of social distancing, Garcia says her role is to ensure folks who are normally food insecure, like those on public assistance, are reconnected to services, including the vulnerable senior population instructed to stay inside.READ MORE: Gennean Scott Named Broadway League's First Director Of Equity, Diversity And Inclusion
“So where you used to maybe go to a senior center to get a meal, we make sure that’s getting delivered,” Garcia said.
Garcia says she and her staff are also looking out for the newly unemployed, maintaining the Department of Education’s grab-and-go meal program for students, and stocking and staffing the 600 food pantries across the city.
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“We are using city staff that might not be deployed at this moment,” Garcia said. “Right now the food supply is very stable coming into the city.”
What’s helping is that 40% of the city’s food used to go to restaurants which are now closed. So wholesale distributors are repackaging their food for retail.
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“We are making sure that we’re getting prepared for the fact that other parts of the country that are the bread basket could be impacted by the spread of the virus,” Garcia said.MORE NEWS: Zeita Merchant Becomes First Woman In Charge Of Coast Guard Sector New York
She said she’s connecting with the philanthropic community to help fund food programs and working with the TLC organizing drivers to help with critical food deliveries.