The annual 49th Precinct Holiday Food Drive kicked off after Thanksgiving.
The drive, now in its 11th year, works with local schools in Morris Park, Van Nest and Pelham Parkway to collect food for two nearby pantries around the Christmas and holiday season, said Joe Thompson, 49th Precinct Community Council president.
It also collects non-perishable foods – pasta, canned food, dry goods – from the general public as well, he said.
The drive organizers plan to wrap up their efforts and deliver all their food to the Bronx Jewish Community Council and St. Lucy’s Church pantries by Wednesday, December 21, said Thompson.
“Whatever you feed your family that is not perishable is what we are looking for,” said Thompson, adding this includes rice, pasta, beans and canned goods. The drive doesn’t accept bread and cakes.
Individuals may now drop off any non-expired food at the precinct’s station house located at 2121 Eastchester Road, confirmed David Lepore, 49th Precinct Community Affairs Officer.
Anyone wishing to make a donation can simply stop by the precinct and tell the desk officer that they are there to drop off food, said Lepore, adding they’ll be directed to the collection site.
“There are a lot of people out there hungry,” said Lepore, adding “You are doing something for someone else that they cannot do for themselves.”
Thompson said that this year, he is trying to encourage more people to stop by the precinct and make food donation before December 21st.
The drive typically collects about 15,000 pounds of food per year.
Thompson stressed that whatever is collected is distributed within the precinct.
He said that because these communities are not generally considered to be those in the highest need, they are sometimes overlooked by larger hunger initiatives.
Participating schools in the drive include P.S. 83, P.S. 105, P.S. 108, Van Nest Academy and P.S. 481.
Additional youth participating are members of the 49th Precinct Youth Explorers, as well as Cub Scout Pack #162, which joined Thompson in front of Big Deal Supermarket on Saturday, December 10 for four hours collecting donations of food and money.
“The kids get a huge kick out of giving and knowing that they are feeding their neighbors,” said Thompson, adding “It is pretty delightful to watch these scouts in action; some of these eight-year-olds are really good salesmen!”
As Thompson tells it, the drive was created years ago to fill a void because the same people who are hungry at Thanksgiving are also hungry during Christmas and New Years.
Despite this, the focus of many of the charity drives after Thanksgiving shift from food to toys, he said.
“It is great to have toys when you wake up, but it is equally great to have dinner – to have food on the table,” said Thompson.
Additional donations of turkeys, if any are available, would be made to senior programs at Eastchester Gardens, Pelham Parkway Houses, Parkside Houses and Beth Abraham.