Monday, December 4, 2023

City officials help facilitate successful meal handout for asylum seekers in the East Village

Photos and reporting by Stacie Joy
Note: Faces of the asylum seekers have been blurred 

After the difficulties with the planned food and clothing distribution at the former St Brigid School on Friday, NYC Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol and Deputy Commissioner of External Affairs David Schmid (both East Village residents) reached out to help facilitate a planned meal handout yesterday at the asylum-seeker reticketing site on Seventh Street and Avenue B. 

The city offered volunteers with East Village Loves NYC the interior courtyard space, complete with OEM pop-up tents to protect against the rain, to pass out 390-plus hot meals to those in need. (On Friday, after arranging for food distribution, officials at the site wouldn't let volunteers hand out the warm meals to those asylum seekers inside the school.)
Father Seán Connolly from St. Brigid/St. Emeric also helped facilitate the distribution and coordinate a plan between the city-run site and the Archdiocese of New York, which owns the space that the city leases. Plans are currently underway to provide additional supplies through the Church and a faith-based initiative.
Yesterday's distribution, serving asylum seekers from China, Russia, Western and Northern Africa, and Central and South America, included all Halal dishes of beef chili, chicken paprikash, vegan red lentil stew, Danish, fruit, nuts/snack packs, and hot coffee, which was extra welcome in the raw, rainy conditions. 

Community members — along with city officials and the always-popular Google translator app — showed up to help provide communication services.
I spotted several people wearing slippers or chancletas and saw others clearly unprepared for the colder temperatures accompanying NYC this time of year. OEM officials discussed the difficulties in providing shoes, coats, and warm clothing and the logistical challenges in assisting the massive influx of asylum seekers. (Per media accounts, more than 140,000 asylum seekers have arrived here since last spring.) 

The mood was optimistic at the end of yesterday's distribution. 

"[The city] set us up in our own private space and provided tents to keep us dry," said EV Loves NYC co-founder and executive director Mammad Mahmoodi. "This meant we could deliver the offerings with much more dignity and care. We hope that this is the start of a healthy and productive relationship between us all and that they fulfill some promises they made moving forward."

Previously on EV Grieve:


Lmknyc said...

Thank God for EV GRIEVE and our East Village residents 🤗

Unknown said...

Unfortunately, last night asylum seekers at St Brigid's were kicked out into the cold and rain. Many in the neighborhood brought over supplies and food, but a group had to sleep outside to try to secure a space there today.

LK said...

love to see some great work by OEM. We do therapy dog visits with them, and the folks that work there are really wonderful (despite being soooo stressed out and working such long hours). Andy's team helped us start up an ongoing program to provide therapy dog services to migrants at the red cross, and everyone there has huge hearts and is working really hard with much compassion. It's extremely sad to see cops and other officials approach these situations with far colder hearts and greater bias, but three cheers for OEM, their leadership, and their folks on the ground. Have just the greatest appreciation for all their hard work to support everyone living in our city, no matter the circumstance.