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Food banks in New York City are preparing for the long haul in the event of a pandemic.
Due to persistent food insecurity and economic challenges, humanitarian groups have been pushed to extend and modify their methods for delivering food to people in need.
“The Food Bank for New York City is the city’s biggest food aid program. We provide service to almost 800 organizations in New York’s five boroughs. On a daily basis, we transfer 40 trucks in and out of here. We’re moving more food out of the warehouse than we have in the past. The issues we’re encountering are comparable to those faced by many other firms. We had ordered trucks and were waiting for them to arrive, but they were late. We also have to strike a balance between that and the reality that we’re always seeking for drivers to fill those vehicles. And we’re doing so in a situation where the volume is increasing.” “Last year, we served nearly 1.6 million meals from this site. And, although we’ve witnessed a decline in the number of customers in comparison to the peak of the epidemic, we’re still dealing with the fallout. And we’re witnessing a 44 percent surge in New Yorkers using food banks around the city.” “There are eight people and two newborns in my home.” And there are just three of us in the home. As a result, it’s critical for us since we don’t have a lot of money to spend on meals.” “A lot of the supply chain difficulties are addressed by our staff in the Bronx, where we have a warehouse.” Thankfully, we have all of the food we need for now. However, we have partners working hard around the city who are witnessing lines stretching for several blocks and phoning us at our warehouse to request additional food because they have more customers.” “We send out between 808 and 850 meals every day, Monday through Friday, from this kitchen.” The need is bigger than it was before, but I believe it has helped to open many people’s eyes to the fact that this has always been true. It’s simply that the blinders have come off now, and everyone can see how much work has been done.” “The amount of those who don’t have enough to eat is too high.” And it’s not going down any time soon. And, since we were already dealing with a catastrophe before to Covid, we now face an even greater issue and a greater urgency to ensure that our neighbors are fed.”
Due to persistent food insecurity and economic challenges, humanitarian groups have been pushed to extend and modify their methods for delivering food to people in need. CreditCredit… The New York Times/Niko Koppel
Yousur Al-Hlou and Christina Kelso
Dominga Espino, 59, walks from her work as a home health care in Harlem to a neighboring food pantry once a month to get supplies for her Bronx family. She’s been coming to the pantry for years, but she claimed pandemic-related job losses among her family members have exacerbated the need for help.
She said, “One used to work at the grocery, then the store closed.” “And one used to work at a restaurant, which closed down.”
Ms. Espino is one of 1.6 million New Yorkers who rely on the Food Bank for New York City for food assistance. The demand for food in municipal food banks, kitchens, and pantries has remained strong throughout the second winter of the epidemic. The demand for hot meals has decreased since the epidemic, while the need for consumables has increased.
At the same time, labor shortages and supply chain interruptions have impacted the procedures used to deliver food to low-income people. As a result, food relief groups have expanded their activities around the city.
Staff employees at the Food Bank for New York City sort, package, and distribute food to over 800 soup kitchens and pantries throughout the five boroughs from a 90,000-square-foot warehouse in the Bronx. According to Dennis Garvey, who supervises operations for the organization’s warehouse, the quantity of food they distribute has more than quadrupled since the start of the epidemic.
“We haven’t noticed much of a decline,” he added. “We’re really moving more food out of the warehouse this winter, this current quarter, than we’ve ever moved before.”
To cope with the increased demand, the Food Bank of New York added a night shift to its warehouse. To get around countrywide truck shortages, it also established an in-house trucking business.
However, twenty-five trucks that were supposed to come in June have yet to materialize, according to Mr. Garvey. There’s also the issue of recruiting drivers in the face of a dwindling workforce and growing competition.
Food relief in New York has been severely hampered as a result of the logistical and shipment delays. According to Alexander Rapaport, executive director of the Masbia Soup Kitchen Network, which has three sites in Brooklyn and Queens, “creative solutions” have been discovered, such as buying prepared food to avoid having to physically sort fruit in quantity. However, he said that navigating the transit problem had been more challenging.
“What if the trucker just does not arrive?” Which implies the vendor isn’t going to show up, and people are waiting in line? That’s what occurred yesterday.” Mr. Rapaport made the announcement on Thursday. “We had truckloads of fresh vegetables, but the vendor didn’t have enough drivers to make all of the deliveries.”
The epidemic has forced Community Kitchen & Pantry in Harlem to distribute more food with fewer volunteers. Organizers are still able to deliver 800 to 850 meals to needy families from their kitchen every Monday through Friday, which gives Sheri Jefferson, the culinary manager and head chef, hope.
“I’m lucky that we have a team that is as enthusiastic about what we’re doing as I am,” she added. “We’re still going to get it done.”
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