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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (PIX11) — In response to a gas outage in her NYCHA development, a Staten Island mom and four young volunteers came up with a community-led solution to fight food insecurity in their neighborhood.

Tia Martinez goes door to door delivering sanitizer, socks and smiles. She said her community experienced a one-two punch: first, COVID-19 hit. Then, a gas outage affected her already struggling neighbors.

Hundreds of residents at Martinez’ building already struggled to heed their families financially, but the gas outage made it physically impossible to cook. She told PIX11 News she had to do something.

Martinez helped organize a team of all young people from the neighborhood, who helped feed hundreds of families twice a week for months. The food and resources came from collaborations with local restaurants, some of which delivered more than 300 meals a week.

Working with the Mayor’s Action Plan, neighborhood safety initiatives and one of Staten Island’s district leaders, Robert Perkins, Martinez plans to keep the distributions going even though the gas outages have been fixed. She told PIX11 her neighbors still need her help.

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