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Like so many of you, my heart aches for the New York City of early 2020. It was an NYC with crowded bars and restaurants, noisy playgrounds, congested crosstown traffic, and bustling neighborhoods. My little downtown slice of the city consists primarily of the West Village, Meatpacking and Union Square, where my family and I spend most of our time, unless we’re popping over to Dumbo, Brooklyn, on the A or C train to check out the FEED Shop & Café. City living is not easy, in fact it takes a certain level of daily grit, but it is something that most of us who are New Yorkers by choice, not birth, learn to relish and delight in. So when COVID-19 swept across the globe and landed harshly on our dense oasis, it startled us all when it brought the hustle and bustle to a halt.
The reality is, the halt probably should have come weeks earlier. In the week leading up to us making the decision for team FEED to work from home and closing up the FEED Shop & Café, I was bopping around the city – from a friend’s going away party in Times Square, to an inspiring Women’s Day gathering hosted by DVF, to a fun and impactful dinner with girlfriends hosted by FEED and Bumble in Dumbo, and more. There was a mounting anxiety that first week of March, as greetings went from hugs and handshakes, to elbow-bumps and head-nods. Leaving my office on that final day and saying goodbye to teammates, not knowing when it would be safe for us to gather again in real life, I was in a haze of disbelief. Two days later, as my husband and I packed up the car with our boys and a few bags of basics, intending to come back to the city after the weekend, a certain sadness set in.
What would become of the city we all knew just a few short weeks ago? What would become of Broadway, restaurants, nail salons, coffee shops, all the small businesses that rely on human interaction to stay alive and thrive? What would become of the essential workers – healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, MTA workers, garbage collectors, mailmen and women, Food Bank staffers and truck drivers – the heroes leading us through these uncharted waters and keeping society going? Will the New York City we all know and love ever return to herself?
I certainly don’t have the answers. All we can do is sit with the uncertainty, together (but apart), bound by our love for New York City – its diverse cast of characters, rich culture, buzzing energy and abundant opportunity and connectivity. All we can do is try to make a difference, by staying home, but also by giving back, in whatever ways we can.
Beyond the devastating impact on health, on our incredible essential workers, small businesses and economic livelihoods, this pandemic has had an undeniable impact on hunger. Before this crisis, 1 in 12 New Yorkers were food insecure and relied on food assistance to get by. With schools out of session and families struggling with lost jobs and income, the Food Bank for NYC and its partners are seeing a 50% increase in need, across the city.
The “new norm” for many of our fellow New Yorkers means not only worrying about getting sick, but feeding yourself and your family.
To meet this increased need, the Food Bank for NYC is working in tandem with the government, smaller soup kitchens, food pantries, and community centers, but they need our help. I am so proud that FEED, a NYC born-and-bred company, with the support of our incredible community, can do our small part by quickly creating a limited-run of NYC Relief Bags, providing 50 meals through the Food Bank for NYC with every one sold. If you can, I also encourage you to make a donation to your local Food Bank. Truly, everything helps right now.
New York City will rise again, changed, as will its inhabitants, united and hopefully made stronger, more neighborly and more compassionate than ever before. I love you NYC, we’ve got your back!
As an ode to the NYC we all know and love, here are a few things that have warmed my soul:
- 7pm Cheering: This nightly ritual of cheering for frontline workers is so unifying and joyful!
- Mark Seliger’s 'Silence in the Streets' Photograph Series: Mark is a good friend and neighbor and I am a huge fan of his work. He has been doing an ongoing series of beautiful photographs for Vanity Fair, showing NYC under lockdown.
- The Daily “I Forgive you NYC”: This beautiful ode to NYC by Roger Cohen on The New York Times' "The Daily" podcast literally made me weep. It reminds me of all the gritty and difficult parts of living in NYC, which somehow makes me long for it even more.
Shop the FEED NYC Relief Tote here, we only have a few, but with the sale of these totes we can provide 15,000 meals to New York families in need.