Stop & Shop, pastors sponsor Easter ham giveaway

Students from the St. Thomas Aquinas School help Stop & Shop employees distribute Easter Hams to residents on Holy Thursday in Crotona Park East. The event was organized by Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr.
Community News Group/Arthur Cusano

Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. spent part of his Holy Thursday joined by community leaders and associates from Stop & Shop to give away some Easter holiday cheer.

The event was held at the Crotona Park East Stop & Shop supermarket, where a tractor-trailer filled with 1,000 hams was unloaded for waiting residents hoping to grab a free holiday dinner.

“This donation is just a small part of Stop and Shop’s commitment to giving back to the community,” Stop & Shop manager of community relations Cindy Carrasquilla said. “We know that hunger never takes a holiday, and that so many of our neighbors struggle to put a nice dinner on their family table. Not just on Easter, but every day.”

Despite such efforts, food insecurity is an issue in the Bronx – it was ranked the hungriest borough in a survey by the national non-profit Hunger Free America.

Among other survey findings:

• A third of Bronx residents lived in food insecure households from 2013 to 2015, while a slightly higher percentage of children lived in such households during that period.

• One in five Bronx seniors lived with food insecurity during that same time period.

• Over half the charitable agencies that responded to the survey said they could not meet the demand of hungry residents.

The borough president thanked the supermarket chain for donating the hams and its other various donations throughout the year, and also thanked the representatives from other charitable organizations on hand for their efforts in feeding those in need: Bronx Clergy Task Force; Love Gospel Assembly Church; New Season Christian Center; Thessalonia Baptist Church and Part of the Solution (POTS), an organization dedicated to feeding the hungry in the city.

“We’re strong in faith, strong in optimism, strong in love,” Diaz said. “We know there are going to be valleys, and life isn’t perfect, but that spirit of giving and taking care of our neighbors is something we all want to do.”

Thessalonia Baptist Church Pastor Malobe Sampson said the Easter theme of resurrection was especially relevant in the Bronx, which finds itself on the upswing after decades of neglect as business and redevelopment return.

“We in the Bronx have gone through some tough times, but yet the Bronx is the greatest borough, the borough of recovery, the borough on the move, that’s progressive,” he said. “This is the best borough to live in in the 21st century.”

Diaz said he was especially thrilled to have third graders from nearby St. Thomas Aquinas School take part in the event.

“It really warms my heart when we see young people at a very early age give back and count their blessings and want to do better by the community,” he said.

Diaz let third-grader Brandon Irizzary have the last word before he and his classmates helped distribute the hams.

“I’m very happy to be here to hand out hams to the poor,” he said. “I really want everyone to have enough food for Easter.”

Reach Reporter Arthur Cusano at (718) 742–4584. E-mail him at acusano@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @arthurcusano.

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