March 10, 2022
Video available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOE2dS0GF6Q
Cooks, Food Service Workers, and Aides Go Above and Beyond to Provide Healthy, Nutritious Meals to 800,000 Students Every Day
New York – New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Education (DOE) Chancellor David C. Banks were today joined by No Kid Hungry New York to recognize 32 "Hunger Heroes" across every one of the city's school districts. Each Hunger Hero has gone above and beyond in the last year to help provide more kids access to healthy meals, especially during the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hunger Heroes include cooks, aides, and food service workers – those on the front lines of fighting hunger in schools.
With one in four children in New York City facing hunger this year, the people who prepare, serve and plan school meals are some of the most important people confronting this crisis. New York City's food services staff serve more than 800,000 meals every day.
"The real heroes don't wear capes – they wear aprons and gloves," said Mayor Adams. "The school workers who have gone above and beyond to ensure our children don't go hungry have delivered for our children, day after day, because when our children eat right, we can help them live up to their potential, inside and outside the classroom. These Hunger Heroes deserve our respect and gratitude, but we still have a long way to go. That's why we are joining the Mayors' Alliance to End Child Hunger and taking action to provide all of New York's children with healthy food options."
"Our food service employees are all true heroes – they are continuing to show up, even throughout the pandemic, to make sure that our young people are well-fed and taken care of each day. Congratulations on this well-deserved honor," said DOE Chancellor Banks. "I know I speak on behalf of all our New York City families and school communities when I say thank you for all you do every day to be heroes for our young people."
"I am grateful every day for the commitment of the school food workers serving healthy meals to our city's children," said Kate MacKenzie, executive director, Mayor's Office of Food Policy. "These ‘Hunger Heroes' – like Mohammed Uddin of District 20, where my two kids attend school – are to be celebrated for the work they do, and I am thrilled to join the mayor and the chancellor in recognizing them today."
"Our Hunger Heroes are too often unsung heroes, but they are some of the most vital professionals in our school communities," said Rachel Sabella, director, No Kid Hungry New York. "No matter what challenges children may face at home, they can count on our Hunger Heroes to go above and beyond to provide good, healthy meals every school day. We are so thankful for their work, and for all the dedicated people working in our schools to keep kids strong and healthy."
"With all the waste that occurs each and every day, no one should go hungry. Food is not a privilege, it's a right, and starving for food is inhumane. I believe the Office of Food & Nutrition Services – the second largest of food distribution besides the Armed Forces – can take the lead," said Shaun D. Francois, president, District Council 37 & Local 372. "It's extremely important for our kids' education because food feeds the mind. School food workers work hard each and every day to provide 800,000 nutritional meals a day to 1.1 million children – now that's heroism to say the least."
This year's Hunger Heroes include people like Treza Ayoub, the cook in charge at Jackson Heights' P.S. 149 since 1998. When a nearby apartment building suffered a fire last April, displacing several students and causing them to miss school, Treza made sure every student still got their breakfast and lunch.
This year's Hunger Heroes are: