49th, neighborhood youngsters collect food for pantry drive

Students from P.S. 83; school principal Brandon Muccino; 49th Precinct police officers and Joe Thompson, 49th Precinct Community Council president celebrate the school’s collection of food for the 49th Precinct Holiday Food Drive on Wednesday, December 20.
Photo by Daniel Clark

A local food drive that brings together children, police and community members during the holidays has delivered again for their hungry neighbors.

Now in its 13th year, the 49th Precinct Holiday Food Drive distributed thousands of pounds of food to two local pantries in the east Bronx on Wednesday, December 20.

The 49th Precinct sent three of its newest police officers to collect food from a host of schools and organization and transport it by police van to pantries serving the community’s neediest people.

Joe Thompson, 49th Precinct Community Council president, said that in past years the drive has collected upwards of 17,000 pounds of food.

“The whole day was just perfect,” said Thompson after the drive distributed food to the Bronx Jewish Community Council’s pantry in Pelham Parkway and to St. Lucy’s Church in Pelham Parkway. “It was just a wonderful day and a wonderful feeling.”

Beyond helping a worthy cause, the annual drive that lasts for about three weeks brought police and community closer together through positive interaction between youth and cops, he said.

P.S 83, P.S. 108, Van Nest Academy, Cub Scout Pack #162 and P.S. 105 were among those that participated.

Four students from P.S. 89 helped unload the food at a BJCC pantry on Holland Avenue, according to Thompson.

Thompson said that Lori Solano, a P.S. 108 assistant principal, raised money to purchase food vouchers at Big Deal Supermarket in Morris Park that he will distribute to organizations helping needy families in addition to the collected food.

Cub Scout Pack #162 spent four hours outside of the Big Deal on Saturday, December 16 collecting donations of non-perishable items from shoppers, and also received a donation from the supermarket, said Thompson.

Community Affairs police officer David Lepore arranged for the police personnel and the two vans to transport the food, said Thompson.

Brandon Muccino, P.S. 83 principal, said that the school has participated in the food drive for more than a decade.

“Every year we seem to get the students more and more involved in it,” said Muccino, adding that the student council was active in promoting the drive, and the collection fits with the school’s “citizenship program” that stresses what it means to be a model and a global citizen.

“To be a global citizen you have to think about your surroundings and the community, and one of the ways to do that is to bring in canned food for those who don’t have during the holiday season,” said Muccino.

David Edelstein of BJCC, where the bulk of the donated food went, said that the drive was very important because people come to them every day for food assistance.

“Even though we get food deliveries from the Food Bank for New York City and other sources, we run out and every single week we will find a day when nothing is here,” said Edelstein after the food was dropped off. “The food that was delivered today will see us through past Christmas, for example, when people are looking for helping.”

BJCC is happy and honored that they are receiving donations that enable them help those who depend on the pantry, said Edelstein, adding the pantry is the borough’s fourth largest.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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