An annual tradition that’s been feeding the needy for 13 years is back this holiday season.
The 49th Precinct Holiday Food Drive is now underway, with the precinct urging all community members to drop off non-perishable items and canned food at their station at 2121 Eastchester Road from now until Wednesday, December 20.
The following day, the food will be collected, brought together with items collected at area schools and by local organizations, and taken by cops and volunteers to the Bronx Jewish Community Council’s food pantry in Pelham Parkway.
Additional food will be sent to St. Lucy’s Church, which has a small pantry on Bronxwood Avenue.
All the food collected will stay in the 49th Precinct and Community Board 11 service area, said the drive’s coordinator, Joe Thompson, 49th Precinct Community Council president.
“I would like to see people come to the precinct and drop food off,” said Thompson, adding “A couple of cans of beans are not going to make that much difference to one family, but put it together with all the other donations and we can feed needy families in our community.”
Thompson said that he expects 17,000 pounds to be collected this year, adding that the need continues to grow every year.
He said that there are many toy drives before Christmas, but not many food drives after Thanksgiving.
“We have to realize that the same people who are hungry at Thanksgiving are hungry at Christmas,” he said, adding “It is great when a family can sit down to a nice Christmas Eve dinner.”
Community Affairs cops detective Jay Sturdivant and police officer David Lepore urged the public to stop by the station to drop off non-perishable food.
“Assisting with this annual food drive always gives me great pleasure to know that some families in need will be able to have a decent meal,” said Sturdivant.
Lepore said that the precinct is looking forward to another successful food drive for the 2017 holiday season.
“Each year the amount of food collected grows as does the participation from the community as a whole,” said Lepore. “We hope to again collect even more food this year and have already been contacted by local schools whose students are eager to help the precinct on the day of the collection.”
Thompson said that schools and organizations participating in the drive are P.S. 83, P.S. 108, P.S. 105, Van Nest Academy, the Councilwoman Madeline Provenzano Educational Campus and Cub Scout Pack #162.
Typically, in the case of the schools, each classroom collects food for two to three weeks and then it’s brought to the food pantry by volunteers and police officers.
Cub Scout Pack #162 has spent an afternoon during the drive outside of Big Deal Supermarket collecting food from customers in previous years.
Additionally, Thompson said that in previous years local businesses like Maestro’s, F&J Pine and Kings Harbor as well as some individuals have donated turkeys to the precinct’s drive.
“They are part of our close knit little family,” said Thompson of the turkey donors.
All donated turkeys are given to local senior centers for distribution to the elderly, he said.