by W. Derrick Lea with reporting from Jenean Lendor, courtesy Adventist News Network
Early morning on Monday, July 12, 2020, I drove up to work with the Adventist Community Services (ACS) teams from Northeastern and Greater New York conferences. This day had been in the planning for about two months, when ACS (local, conference, union, and division leadership) began discussing our need for food with City Harvest, one of the region’s largest food banks.
ACS has approximately 100 pantries operating in New York’s five boroughs, and they currently distribute food two to three times each week. This work has led those suffering through COVID-19 to flock to the food pantries at a level we have never seen with thousands of people taking advantage of these services every day the ACS pantries are open. The use of these pantries had led to our ACS teams running out of food to give away, and some centers were not able to open because of a lack of food.
With this backdrop, we began speaking with City Harvest about working with us to meet the observed need. Initially, we’ hoped to get food for a couple of our most active food pantries, however, as we continued the discussion, it appeared there might be an opportunity for us to receive more. We shared the level of challenges we were facing and sent them a listing of all the pantries we had operating in New York City. When City Harvest saw the magnitude of our operation and the number of people we were assisting each week, they told us the topic would need to be presented to their board. This led to the current offer of 12 pallets of food delivered to one location each Monday between the hours of 9 a.m. 12 noon.