MetLife Foundation to donate $400,000 to New York food banks

People putting food in a donation box
Photo via Getty Images


The MetLife Foundation committed to donating $400,000 to food banks across New York state to help them deal with increased demand for their services amidst widespread quarantining because of the coronavirus, according to an announcement made March 18. 

The foundation will grant $200,000 to Feeding Westchester and $100,000 each to the Food Bank for New York City and the Food Bank of Central New York. 

Food banks work to get non-perishable food into the pantries of people who are homebound as quickly as possible. Now that vulnerable populations such as the elderly have been advised to practice social distancing and families with children cannot receive free meals at school, they are needing to reach more people than ever. 

“We want to help those impacted by coronavirus,” said Mike Zarcone, head of Corporate Affairs for MetLife and the Chairman of MetLife Foundation. “That includes the communities in New York where we work and live. We know that children out of school and seniors face food insecurity as a result of COVID-19, and we are committed to help.”

The MetLife Foundation has contributed more than $850 million to create stronger communities since its founding in 1976. 

The $200,000 donation will cover about 320,000 pounds of food, all of which will go toward feeding impoverished families impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic, said Jenna Russo, the director of public relations for Feeding Westchester.

“It has been crazy,” Russo said. “Our food bank is a little old food bank. We have 46 full-time people and this is the largest demand we have ever seen. We have 11,000 volunteers but we aren’t able to have them all in the office right now, so we have 20 people working right now. We are putting out the most food with the least people.”

Feeding Westchester ordered 500,000 pounds of food last week, consisting of not only shelf-stable items but things like dairy, eggs and fresh produce as well. 

“We are just trying to make sure people are as stocked up as possible in the case of a shelter-in-place rule,” Russo said.

Mayor Bill de Blasio warned New Yorkers in a press conference March 17 that they should prepare for the possibility of a shelter-in-place order, which would prohibit people from leaving their homes, except under limited circumstances.

The Food Bank of Central New York has been building emergency boxes in the event that food pantries start to close down, said Lynn Hy, Chief Development Officer of Food Bank of Central New York. The grant from the MetLife foundation will take care of all of the additional costs that they have accrued from responding to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have started a donation campaign specifically for our response to the coronavirus,” Hy said. “We continue to need funds and we are going to need additional funds from individuals, corporations or foundations to support the extraordinary efforts that are happening right now. We are so appreciative that the MetLife foundation is supporting our work and recognizing their employees and helping communities where their employees are.”

NYC Emergency Management developed a notification system for coronavirus updates in the city. New Yorkers can text “COVID” to 692692 for sign up for information. 

More information about the food banks can be found at www.feedingwestchester.org, www.foodbanknyc.org and www.foodbankcny.org