5,000 free meals distributed to Bronx residents amid COVID-19 crisis

From natural disasters like earthquakes to cruise ships quarantined due to the coronavirus, World Central Kitchen has been feeding people wherever they're in need. Now the group is partnering with the Bronx community, business and political leadership to feed 5,000 New Yorkers a day.

"We have seen so many people that are scared about what they're going to eat," Assemblyman Michael Blake said.

The Davidson Community Center is one of seven Bronx locations where residents are now able to get free meals, like sealed bag lunches from Revolution Foods with a turkey and cheese sandwich, carrot sticks and an apple.

The bag lunches are distributed by Beatstro Cafe volunteers. One of them is U.S. military veteran Terrance Thomas.

"I'm from the South Bronx as well, so to be able to provide some meals for them in the beginning of whatever's about to happen will be helpful," he said.

The overall distribution strategy was organized by non-profit World Central Kitchen, founded a decade ago by famous chef Jose Andres.

"Obviously this is unprecedented for us. We've responded to every type of crisis from immigration to cyclone," World Central Kitchen director of field operations Sam Bloch said. "This is something new to us, but something we're adapting to very quickly to address the needs in real time."

Putting it all together takes a lot of coordination, Blake said.

"Can you get to the senior center, taking care of seniors there. If you're going to a NYCHA development, making sure you're connected with the tenant association presidents. It's not easy but it's worth it."

The Beatstro Cafe and Lounge on Alexander Avenue is serving as the central distribution point, and volunteer coordination point. They plan to keep it up throughout the crisis. Beatstro management is starting with the 5,000 cold meals a day and is planning to expand to 12,000 hot meals daily in both the Bronx and Queens.


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