The Skyline Charitable Foundation's Relief Access Program celebrates first anniversary exceeding 1.3 million meals delivered
By the end of 2020, RAP4Bronx had approached the one million mark of meals delivered. When the program celebrated its first anniversary on April 1 of this year, the total had climbed by over a third, exceeding 1.3 million meals, serving an average of 10,000 households per week. Organizers didn’t take a break to celebrate – all were steeped in preparations for the April 3 Easter egg hunt for the children at Monroe Houses, a NYCHA development stretching over 18 acres in the borough’s Soundview section.
On April 3rd, an Easter egg hunt was organized for the children at Monroe Houses, a NYCHA development stretching over 18 acres in the Soundview section of The Bronx.
RAP4Bronx was originally organized and run by a task force of managers, laborers, and volunteers from Andromeda Advantage to help construction laborers laid off due to the pandemic. The population soon broadened to include frontline and essential workers and all of the Bronx’s most vulnerable citizens.
“We were uniquely poised with a fleet of vehicles and a labor force highly skilled at logistics,” said Shana McCormick (photo), then with Spring Scaffolding’s accounting team, now the RAP4Bronx program director. She credits Andromeda’s Eva Hatzaki, director of marketing; Jack Terranova, director of purchasing & logistics; Cesar Rodriguez, fleet manager; Maurice Davidson, facilities manager; and Randall Meckel, executive vice president, for their early and ongoing support.
Powered by The Skyline Charitable Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, RAP4Bronx acquired an influx of capital from nearby York Studios. A vacant retail space in Bruckner Commons donated by Urban Edge, the mall’s property manager, and facilitated by Community Board 9, became the de facto warehouse with an adjacent loading dock to receive and transport trailer loads of food. Bags and boxes, all in bulk, continue to be distributed to community-based organizations through NYCHA, senior and veteran’s centers, shelters, food pantries, Community Fridges and places of worship. Produce comes from City Harvest and staples from the Food Bank of New York. Volunteers from New York Cares lend helping hands.
Since last June, ReThink Food —a non-profit with a mission to create a more sustainable and equitable food system— has been a strong partner in the prepared meal portion of the operation.
“Food insecurity is a pre-existing condition. Covid only exacerbated it,” said McCormick. The program has grown from an emergency food site to one able to provide culturally relevant and healthy prepared meals, a boon for those in shelters lacking fully functioning kitchens and workers returning from long hours at a job.
Consistency is key. “We’re not leaving. We’re here to uplift the community to advocate for themselves, to assist in ensuring that there’s an equitable and just food system in place,” said McCormick.
What’s next? Urban farming is a goal that will further engage the community on multiple levels. While the City and the nation begin the long process of recovery, McCormick stressed that, “The need is still great.” Whatever happens, she vowed, “We’re here for the long haul.” Donations can be made through rap4bronx.org/support-us