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NYC schools donate over 1,000 cases of frozen food as academic year comes to an end

A public school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, was distributing free food during the coronavirus outbreak, May 14, 2020. Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

In an effort to combat food insecurity and waste during the coronavirus pandemic, New York City is donating over 1,000 cases of frozen school food to local food pantries and anti-hunger organizations, officials announced Monday.

The education department’s Meal Hub program, which launched shortly after schools closed due to coronavirus, has provided food for about 27 million people, officials said. But many frozen meals — like frozen vegetables, chicken dumplings and Jamaican beef patties — remain unused and are nearing their expiration dates. So, the school system is partnering with donateNYC, a Department of Sanitation program that allows people to donate or to find food and other items as a way to reduce waste.

Donations have already gone to some organizations including the Good Neighbor Food Pantry, City Harvest, and the RIVER FUND.

Food insecurity was one of Mayor de Blasio’s reasons for keeping schools open as the coronavirus pandemic worsened. After closing school buildings on March 12, de Blasio opened 460 schools throughout the city to offer meals daily.

The city expanded its school food distribution program — which offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner — to include any New York City adult in need. Initially, the program was only offering meals for NYC schools students and parents.

The program has separate pickup times for students and their families compared to other adults. Vegetarian and halal options are also available, and everyone can pick up multiple meals at once. Additional sites were also added for Kosher meals.

“No New Yorker needs to go hungry during this public health and economic crisis, and we’re always ready to step up in every way we can and do our part,” Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza said in a statement about the move to donate leftover food. “We will not let up on our mission to help feed New Yorkers for the duration of this crisis.”

The education department did not immediately respond to questions about food distribution during summer school.

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