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BRONX TIMES R 4 EPORTER, JUNE 4-10, 2021 BTR
Gjonaj starts petition
to extend emergency
food box program
BY JASON COHEN
Bronx residents suffered from food
insecurities before the pandemic and
COVID-19 has only exacerbated the
problem. Lines at food pantries stretch
around the block and thousands flock
to food giveaways.
In fact, since the coronavirus arrived
Councilman Mark Gjonaj
and community organizations have
teamed up to feed people. No program
has been more beneficial towards this
goal than the USDA’s Farmers to Families
Food Box Program. Since last October,
they have distributed food boxes
with approximately 125,000 meals
of milk, yogurt, fruits, vegetables
and meat to thousands of struggling
However, at the end of the month
this federally funded program is ending.
If this happens, the councilman
will have to shut down his weekly food
On May 24, the lawmaker
launched a petition calling on the
federal government to continue funding
the USDA’s Farmers to Families
Food Box Program. So far it has 400
“We’re not out of the pandemic,”
Gjonaj said. “I guess they see the light
at the end of the tunnel and think this
program is no longer needed. We know
that’s not the case, especially in the
Bronx that has 15 percent unemployment,
compared to the national average
of 6 percent.These food boxes have
made a difference in the lives of so
Each family receives 12 pounds of
fruits and veggies, 5 pounds cheese
and yogurt and a gallon of milk. On
Tuesday he held one of the last food
giveaways at Astor Ave and Boston
He stressed to the Bronx Times
Residents get food before the USDA’s Farmers
to Families Food Box Program expires.
Photos by Jason Cohen
that residents have come to rely on
“When they hear that the food program
is ending you’ll see how disappointed
they are,” he commented.
Bronx resident Saiian comes to the
food giveaway Gjonaj hosts every Tuesday
and praised the councilman for
what he has been doing. Since he is out of
work, the food is quite important to him.
However, he was not pleased to find
out the USDA program is expiring.
“The government can’t do this because
people need the food” he said.
Gjonaj is also drafting legislation
formerly calling on government officials
to not abandon struggling Americans
as they desperately try to recover
from the impact of the pandemic.
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