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HARLEM, Manhattan — The number of people experiencing food insecurity in New York City continues to grow. In response, local leaders, nonprofits, and Korey Wise, a member of the Exonerated Five, helped distribute 700 boxes of free groceries to families in Harlem.

Hundreds of people waited in line for free groceries on Lenox Avenue, including 67-year-old Lilian Ballard. Ballard was in the sea of people with her 5-year-old great granddaughter and her shopping cart.

“I never thought this was my reality. I’m 67. I never thought I would be here,” said Ballard.

Odetta Clark, 70, said she needs help.

“We need extra food. We are on food stamps. We just don’t get enough assistance,” said Clark.

The event was made possible by funding from the Migdol Family Foundation and nonprofit organization Robin Hood. Wise said the event was needed because of the ongoing crisis.

“I hope it ends soon,” said Wise.

Harlem District Leader Keith Lily said the crisis has been especially hard on seniors.

“Folks are struggling, especially our seniors,” he said.

Organizers plan on doing more grocery giveaways in Harlem.

According to Robin Hood, a nonprofit organization fighting poverty, at the height of the pandemic in NYC:

  • 1 in 3 parents of small children were skipping or reducing their meals to feed their children
  • By the end of April, more than one in five households in the U.S., and two in five households with mothers with children 12 and under, were food insecure
  • If you had breakfast with your family today, you are better off than 2 million of your neighbors who are at risk of going hungry

Robin Hood’s Poverty Tracker study, done in partnership with Columbia University, follows 4,000 New York City families and surveys them over the course of years to get a dynamic view of poverty over time. The study found:

  • There has been a nearly 30 percent increase in food hardship amongst survey respondents who lost work or income due to COVID-19
  • Food hardship has disproportionately impacted people of color. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of Hispanic and Black survey respondents who lost work since the COVID-19 outbreak are experiencing food hardship

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