Bronx, NY— Today, Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, Council Member James Vacca, and Council Member Stephen Levin announced the start of a week-long Council food drive to raise much-needed resources, support, and awareness for food pantries in New York City.

The New York City Council also allocated $1.32 million in the Fiscal Year 2015 budget to bolster dwindling supplies in city food pantries, food banks, and soup kitchens. In 2013, fifty percent of hunger-relief organizations had to turn people away due to inadequate resources to meet the rising demand.

“Food security is a basic human right, yet every night far too many New Yorkers go to bed hungry,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “Food pantries are a vital resource in the fight against hunger, but citywide supply shortages and rising food costs have severely depleted their ability to serve New Yorkers in need of assistance. The City Council’s food drive and $1.32 million food pantry initiative will go a long way toward filling the empty shelves and providing wholesome, nutritious meals to anyone in need.”

From August 25th to August 29th, thirty-three Council Members across the five boroughs will organize food drives in their districts to collect non-perishable food supplies such as canned and dry goods and powdered milk. At the conclusion of the drive, the foodstuffs will be donated to local food pantries throughout New York City. The drives also commemorates the 104th birthday of Mother Teresa, whose humanitarian and charity work served millions worldwide.

“Food pantries across the city have empty shelves, which leaves thousands of New Yorkers with empty stomachs,” said Council Member James Vacca. “One person going to sleep hungry is one too many, and we all must do our part to help feed those most in need. I’m thrilled to partner with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito to sponsor this food drive in honor of Mother Teresa’s 104th birthday. I have held a food drive in my district commemorating her birthday in previous years, but I am proud that this year, with the help of the Speaker, we are organizing the first Council-wide drive to fill up the food banks!”

“The Citywide Food Drive and Food Pantry Initiative are just two of the ways the New York City Council is working to make sure that New Yorkers don’t go hungry,” said Council Member Stephen Levin. “I want to encourage everyone to make donations during the Food Drive and help make sure food banks and pantries have the needed resources that New Yorkers throughout the City depend on. I want to thank Speaker Mark-Viverito, Council Member Vacca, and all of my colleagues for their dedication on this important issue.”

“As Chair of the City Council’s Committee on Finance, I am proud to be a part of the Council’s Citywide Food Drive and $1.3 Million Food Pantry Initiative,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras. “In a City with millions, it is a tragedy to have had nearly half of our pantries turn away people in need over the last year because they did not have enough food for distribution. Together, with my Council colleagues and our advocates against hunger, I look forward to ensuring all food pantries across all five boroughs are adequately prepared to address this citywide crisis. This food drive and pantry initiative will bring us one step closer to closing the inequality gap and ending food poverty.”

“The City Council works every day to improve the lives of New Yorkers, and this week we’re using the reach of our offices to help feed the hungry,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. “I can’t think of a better way to honor the spirit and the generosity of Mother Teresa.”

“An alarmingly high number of families are in the unfortunate position of struggling to put food on the table each day. As the cost of living in New York continues to rise while federal SNAP benefits have seen a reduction, food pantries play a critical role in feeding local families,” said Council Member Mark Levine. “I thank Council Member Vacca and Speaker Mark-Viverito for bringing much-needed attention to this crisis and am proud to join them in their effort to collect non-perishable goods around the city.”

“Traveling through Queens and, in fact, the entire City of New York, one can be overwhelmed by the amount of people served by our food pantries,” said Council Member I.Daneek Miller. “It is imperative that we get involved and are committed to solving the hunger needs of all New Yorkers. I am proud to stand with my colleagues in hosting this week long food drive and look forward to helping collect non-perishable items.”

“It is an honor to commemorate Mother Teresa on her 104th birthday by doing what she has inspired so many of us to do: giving to those in our community who are in need,” said Council Member Andrew Cohen. “Helping our neighbors who lack essential food items is an opportunity to demonstrate the values Mother Teresa cherished most. I am happy to collect donations for the St. Frances of Rome food pantry in Wakefield.”
“Poverty is a plight primarily faced by women, children, and seniors in households across this city,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, Chair of the Women’s Issues Committee. “Through social services, many of these families can fulfill the needs left unmet by economic challenges. I am proud to join my colleagues in the New York City Council in a citywide food drive to replenish the food pantries that millions of New Yorkers depend upon each and every day.”

“This is a great chance to help our fellow New Yorkers who are struggling to put food on the table for themselves and their family,” said Council Member Mark Treyger. “Unfortunately, many food pantries in communities around Brooklyn and the city are facing dire shortages, leaving many residents even more vulnerable and in need of our support. I urge everyone who can to join this great cause in honor of Mother Teresa and on behalf of our less fortunate neighbors.”

“Well-fed New Yorkers are successful New Yorkers – yet right now, one in five children and one in ten seniors are food insecure in one of the wealthiest cities in the world,” said Council Member Rory Lancman. “By offering immediate relief and directly combatting hunger on the ground, district by district, more New York City families will have a fair shot at a full future.”

“I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in the City Council as we kick off a week-long food drive in honor of Mother Teresa’s 104th birthday,” said Council Member Paul Vallone. It is important to give back to the less fortunate, and I look forward to reaching out to the constituents in my district to collect as much as we can for the Flushing Jewish Community Council’s food pantry.”

“Too many New Yorkers are hungry every day,” said Council Member Daniel Dromm. “For the City Council’s week long food drive I am asking my neighbors in Jackson Heights and Elmhurst to collect food for the Our Lady of Fatima pantry. I am proud to be teaming with my colleagues to collect food citywide.”

“One in five children in our city live in families with difficulty affording food. When food pantries are empty, it affects 1.4 million people–mainly children, seniors, the working poor and people with disabilities, who rely on rely on soup kitchens and food pantries,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “I am proud to stand with our Speaker and Council Member Vacca to help keep our city’s food pantries stocked.”

“Less food supplies and more demand mean that summer months can be the leanest for Food Bank’s network of food pantries and soup kitchens, so the City Council’s emergency food drive couldn’t come at a better time,” said Margarette Purvis, President and CEO at the Food Bank For New York City. “We applaud Speaker Mark-Viverito, Councilman Vacca and the entire City Council for enlisting all New Yorkers to participate in this new drive, which will help more families send their children back to school well-fed and nourished.”

“We commend the Speaker and the entire City Council for forcefully fighting the hunger epidemic that threatens nearly 1.4 million New Yorkers – and 1 in 5 of our children,” said Joel Berg, Executive Director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger. “The Council led efforts to increase access to school lunches and boosted funding for food pantries and soup kitchens, while supporting the de Blasio Administration’s efforts to reduce barriers to federal nutrition assistance benefits. This Council both cares and acts. The Council knows both that every bit counts – and that anyone who can help should help – but that citizen efforts should only supplement effective public policies. That is why we urge New Yorkers to go to to learn how they can move ‘beyond the food drive’ in order to aid strategic projects – such as policy, advocacy, and benefits outreach – that can make the biggest impact in fighting hunger.”

“City Harvest appreciates the emergency food initiative spearheaded by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member James Vacca, which will help keep the shelves stocked at soup kitchens and food pantries and shine a spotlight on hunger in New York City,” said Matthew Reich, City Harvest’s Vice President of Food Sourcing. “New Yorkers can band together and collectively we can make an impact in the fight against hunger. This year, City Harvest is committed to rescuing 50 million pounds of food and delivering it to more than 500 community food programs across the city to help meet the growing need for food.”

“The Jewish Community Council food pantries are invaluable assets and partners to the communities they serve,” said David Edelstein, Executive Director of the Bronx Jewish Community Council Food Pantry. “The Bronx Jewish Community Council Food Pantry serves over 1,000 families a month, and everyone who walks through our doors tells us that we are a vital resource and source of support. The Council-sponsored food drive and budgetary allocations will help pantries like ours in our mission to provide wholesome food to those who need it most, and I thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the City Council for shedding light on this important issue facing our city.”