Queens food bank gathers discarded food to feed those who need it

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QUEENS — A Queens food bank uses discarded food and donations to feed thousands of families in need.

During the pandemic, Queens organization River Fund New York came up with a creative way to feed thousands of families; they collect food that would have been wasted or discarded, and give it directly to families who need it the most.

Since the pandemic began, the River Fund has tripled the families they feed every week at 88-11 Lefferts Boulevard. They now feed 3,500 families a week. About 45 percent of their food comes from the city and 55 percent is private donations from the food industry, including manufacturers, wholesalers, food shippers, warehouse operators and retailers.

River Fund New York organizer Otto Starzmann said the food is often disposed of or overstocked in New York. Sometimes it gets tossed because it arrives where it’s meant to be later than when it’s needed.

“We are able to take that excellent food from those food suppliers and manufacturers and put it in the hands that need it,” Starzmann said.

Swami Durga Das, executive director of the River Fund New York said the organization has been feeding families for over 28 years. They’ve been on overdrive since the start of the outbreak.

Das said they were giving out 100,000 pounds of groceries per week. Now they are averaging 340,000 pounds.

River Fund New York distributes food at 88-11 Lefferts Boulevard. The organization feeds seniors on Wednesdays. On Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, families can get food. For more information, click here.

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