Longtime New York City philanthropist Francine A. LeFrak is teaming up with the Food Bank for New York City to provide over a million meals to New Yorkers, especially those in the borough of Queens, where residents face desperate circumstances due to the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown.
In addition to the million meals, LeFrak and her foundation are working with the Food Bank to provide a line of credit to help maintain operations at 15 food banks and additional mobile food trucks.
LeFrak told Newsmax she estimates the operation is feeding about 10,000 people a day, and has plans to do even more.
Queens has been especially hard hit by the pandemic, with more than 60,000 diagnosed cases. The borough is experiencing severe economic disruption. She estimates 4 million meals will ultimately be needed.
“We saw the need, and the demand in Queens had quadrupled,” the philanthropist told Newsmax. “Some of these neighborhoods in Queens didn’t have an opportunity to go to food banks. Something like 75% of them closed because they were operated by elderly, and they also couldn’t get the distribution.
“You had a perfect storm of perhaps 400 times the need,” she said, “and nowhere to go.”
LeFrak’s partners in the food distribution effort are the Food Bank, which she hails as “a great organization that’s nimble,” and her Francine A. LeFrak Foundation. The foundation’s mission is “to help change the lives of those who need an opportunity to achieve success.”
In light of the current crisis, “the foundation is pivoting and adjusting its priorities to help people gain access to the food they need to feed themselves and their families,”said a recent news release from the organization.
The LeFrak name is well known to New Yorkers; indeed, Francine’s family ties to Queens run deep. Her father, real estate developer Sam LeFrak, began building LeFrak City there in 1962.
The 17-tower, 4,605-apartment complex took a decade to build with the aim of providing affordable housing for New Yorkers. LeFrak was a contemporary of the late Fred Trump, New York’s famed homebuilder and President Donald Trump's dad.
LeFrak told Newsmax she felt shaken by the sight of the hardworking people of Queens being slammed by the pandemic.
“I get a quiver down my spine and a lump in my throat,” LeFrak said, describing her reaction to seeing fellow New Yorkers lining up for food. “And honestly, I feel like crying.”
“I know the pride of those people, their pride and what it took for them to go there. I can’t tell you the empathy that I feel,” she said.
The Food Bank of New York City is the city’s largest hunger relief organization, with a network of more than 800 food pantries and soup kitchens.
LeFrak is offering to match any donations made to help feed the people of Queens in their moment of need.
“It’s totally tax-deductible,” she said. “Every dollar pays for five meals, and immediately goes where it’s needed.”
Food Bank’s webpage for matching donations is: FoodBankNYC/LeFrak.
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