Amid a growing second COVID-19 wave and with the need for food increasing as we approach Thanksgiving, the Met Council on Jewish Poverty provided food on Tuesday to six different sites with hundreds on line, including St. Peter’s School in Brooklyn, where children and parents assisted with the distribution.
More than a million pounds of food is being sponsored by Jane Goldman and The Sol Goldman Charitable Trust to be distributed throughout the city for the holidays, Met officials said. The Met Council is serving five boroughs, five days a week.
A line of people snaked around the corner on 23rd Avenue and 84th Street to the entrance ofwhere students and parents formed an assembly line to send out food packages to those waiting and in need of nutrition.
Monsignor Andrew Vaccari, pastor of St. Mary Mother of Jesus and head of St. Peter Catholic Academy, said he was very proud of his students and their parents who helped distribute scores of boxes of food provided by Met Council.
“They are great kids and they are always happy and eager to help anyone that needs it,” Vaccari said after taking part in the assembly line himself. “A lot of people are suffering as we all know. A sign of charity and interest in others is a great sign of hope and so today was a great expression of hope and for the young to what ever generation came for food – our young kids were very eager to help.”
Vaccari said his parish has been hit by COVID-19, with some getting sick, others with family members who became ill and yet, and still others who lost jobs and income.
“People are also struggling because of the stress of society that so many others are struggling with; some people have health issues so its a difficult time for everybody really,” Vaccari said.
Lawrence Morton, 13, an eighth grader at the St. Peter’s Academy, carried boxes of food to the line with fellow classmatese. He said several of his family members were sick with COVID-19 and “it was terrible, but they came back strong.”
“A lot of people need help at this time of COVID pandemic – so many people lost jobs, don’t have enough money, afford food for themselves – we need to help and give back what we get,” Morton said.
Amy Antoun, 12, helped with the boxes of food for the people. Her parents, both doctors, had to quarantine much of the time from their family – her mother became sick with COVID in July for three weeks, but has since recovered, she said.
“There’s people out there that are unfortunate, so its our job to help them,” she said, thinking about her birthday coming up just after the weekend. “Thanksgiving is the time to give, especially because COVID-19 has affected all of us, our mental health especially and those who lost their jobs and so we need to help those in need.”
Parents also took part, hauling boxes out to the line.
“Being 2020 is a critical year so to do this for the community is important,” said Jessica Crissali, who’s daughter is in the pre-k program. “With COVID and all and without family and friends, to do this is vital.”
“I wanted to help the community, Thanksgiving is very hard this year, so I wanted to just give back in some way,” said Anna Marie Catareli, whose daughter is in kindergarten. “Karma comes back and you give what you get, if you give good, you receive good.”
David Greenfield, executive director and CEO of Met Council called the need “unprecedented,” and thanked Jane Goldman for stepping up with 5000 extra food boxes.
“What makes this year unique is that we have never seen before, so many people are stuck at home – they would’ve gone to better off relative, an uncle, aunt, sister, – they had enough,” Greenfield said. “This year, they can’t go because of COVID and they cant afford to make Thanksgiving. People don’t realize that not everyone can afford to buy food – they are out of luck, so we step up in a more significant way.”
Met Council is one of the largest Jewish charities that provides food to senior centers, schools of all denominations, all types of religious institutions no matter what religion.
“No matter who you are, or what your religion, we are all New Yorkers first,” he concluded.