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LONG ISLAND CITY, Queens — New York City’s first and largest food rescue organization hit a major milestone on Wednesday by delivering its billionth pound of food to a pantry in Long Island City.

It’s a great accomplishment for City Harvest, which was created almost 40 years ago.  

Hour Children was the food pantry that received the delivery, and the program coordinator, Kellie Phelan, was emotional over it.

“It brings tears to my eyes,” Phelan said. “City Harvest is amazing. I can absolutely say that throughout this pandemic, we may not have been able to survive and stay open for the past two years if it wasn’t for the help of City Harvest.”

Heidi Rafat lives in the neighborhood and visits Hour Children on a consistent basis. Her husband passed away, and raising three children on her own is difficult, but the pantry takes away the stress of putting food on the table.

“It saves me money to buy the fruits, the vegetables,” Rafat said. “The people here are helpful and stuff like that so it’s easy for me.”

The organization says that the pandemic caused food insecurity rates to increase more than 40% in New York City with a disproportionate impact on Back and brown communities.

Jenique Jones, vice president of Program Operations and policy at City Harvest, said they’re there to help — no matter where you live or what you look like.

“None of that matters for us,” Jones said. “Our pantries don’t ask those questions. Our pantries aren’t asking you where you’re from.”

Despite reaching this major milestone of one billion pounds delivered, City Harvest is not stopping. As long as food insecurity exists, it says it will continue to delivery fresh and healthy food to as many neighbors as possible.