NYer Of The Week: Stephen Grimaldi Brings Healthy Food To Hungry New Yorkers
March is National Nutrition Month, and this week's New Yorker of the Week is helping hungry New Yorkers gain access to fresh produce.
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Fresh, healthy food is a luxury for many New Yorkers, and for those struggling to make ends meet, quality produce is often out of reach.
But Stephen Grimaldi of the Yorkville Common Pantry is trying to change that – one bag at a time.
"We want to not just fill bellies, but provide people with nutritious, healthy food," Grimaldi says.
The pantry has been helping hungry New Yorkers for more than 30 years, providing free food served by a team of volunteers. Two years ago, the panty decided to stop purchasing canned food or food that was over-prepared.
"It means a lot to help me and my family to live a better life and a healthy life," says Jose Garcia, who uses the pantry every week. "The economy is so bad, so today anything that will save you money, we're grateful."
"This place is totally a Godsend for most people that come in here," says pantry volunteer Arturro Marguez.
Grimaldi, the pantry's executive director, says he always had a desire to help others. But it wasn't until he became an intern at the pantry that he says he understood the extent of the hunger problem in the city.
"It was and eye-opening experience," he says. "I became aware that there are a whole group of people in New York City that struggle to make ends meet and really try to bridge the gap between the cost of living and their income."
And that even goes for people who on the surface may appear to be doing well.
"There was a woman who came in last week – she works and her husband works so they have a two-income family and a teenage son. But they just couldn't do it anymore, so they needed to come here and get food assistance," Grimaldi says. "In that way we are really able to support a family."
"You can see the immediate impact you make on people's lives," he adds. "To provide food that they wouldn't be able to access or wouldn't be able to afford – that's incredibly satisfying."
And so for helping struggling families gain access to healthy food, Stephen Grimaldi is our New Yorker of the Week.
For more information on the Yorkville Common Pantry, visit www.ycp.org.