The RAP4BRONX (Relief Access Program for The Bronx) was launched in Mid-March 2020 amid the Covid-19 pandemic with a mission to collect and donate meals, groceries, and essential supplies to frontline workers, senior citizens, and vulnerable residents in the Bronx and throughout New York City. RAP4BRONX has delivered over 1.7M meals to help fight food insecurity in a borough with already high poverty rates compounded by the coronavirus pandemic.
Shana McCormick is the Program Director of Rap4Bronx and plays an integral part in the day-to-day operations and in building meaningful partnerships around the city that allows RAP4BRONX to reach more residents in need.
1. What is your organization’s mission?
The Relief Access Program for The Bronx [Rap4Bronx] is to build bridges for communities to access sustainably healthy futures. We are powered by The Skyline Charitable Foundation, whose mission is to promote the well-being of individuals of all ages and backgrounds by helping them overcome challenges that prohibit their physical, mental, and social growth.
2. How did your organization come to be and when did it start?
The program was formed in March 2020, in response to the sharp rise in food insecurity within our City, in specific, The Bronx area. We thankfully were able to source fleet and volunteers, as the City was shut down, to use for last-mile deliveries. Many pantries and other resources were limited due to the pandemic and the pre-existing condition of food insecurity was only exacerbated. We delivered our first 100 pantry bags on April 1st and are blessed to have been able to distribute over 1.7M meals to date.
3. Can you tell me about the work your organization does and the program or programs you run?
We distribute NYS fresh produce, staple dry goods such as rice, oats, cereal, eggs, and beans, and local Bronx restaurant prepared meals, including meals from a Dominican vegan restaurant (yes! VEGAN Dominican) to Community Based Organizations such as Senior Centers, Veteran Residences, Men’s/Women’s and Family Residences, Houses of Worship and several NYCHA Developments. We run Free Farmer Markets through the summer and fall season at various locations, where the community can come choose their produce in a dignified and fun setting. We oftentimes have guest local chefs, recipes in various languages, and other nutritional education resources. Through the relationships we have made in the communities we serve and beyond, we also work to connect our residents to other resources and organizations that already exist, to help address whatever their needs may be.
4. What has your organization accomplished to date?
We are grateful to say that we have distributed over 1.7M meals and 2.9M pounds of produce to date. In addition, we have aided in the startup of Family Virtual Cooking Classes in one of the local NYCHA Developments, where families are provided a fresh meal kit and are guided by a chef in cooking a plant-based meal, in the comfort of their homes. We have also aided in the startup of weekly NYS fresh produce distributions at various NYCHA developments, specifically two locations with large senior populations. We have also assisted in placing three (3) local Bronxites with employment in community nutrition work, where they will be running projects in the communities in which they reside.
5. How can people get involved outside of donating?
onations of time are always of the most value! We encourage people who are interested in volunteering, to sign up via our website. We will then be in touch with upcoming volunteer opportunities. We also invite those who may have a background in data analysis, marketing, program coordination, and any other skills they think may be useful to the organization. Interested individuals can reach out to me directly at: email@example.com
6. What are some plans or goals for the next few years? What priorities will help you achieve them? What barriers are in your way?
Rap4Bronx started as an emergency food relief program and although we are still committed to food distribution, as we clearly see every day that it remains necessary, we look to assist in finding a long-term solution. We aim to provide access to locally sourced, nutrient-dense foods, particularly in areas that have high numbers of fast food locations and minimal access to nutritious foods aka food swamps. Another goal of ours is to aid and advocate for access to nutrition education in our schools. With both access and education, especially for our youth, the chances of a sustainably healthy future are bright.
The need for a healthier Bronx (the unhealthiest county in New York State) is one of the things that keeps us going. Our hope is that our elected officials will also do their part in creating and pushing for legislation that will help us achieve this.
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