Since its inception three decades ago, the National Action Network has been dedicated to evoking social change and providing resources for underserved communities. The nonprofit is continuing that tradition this holiday season. According to NY1, the organization provided hundreds of Harlem residents with free meals on Christmas.
Food insecurity is a pressing concern that has plagued the city of New York, and the public health crisis has deepened the issue. According to City Harvest, 1.2 million New Yorkers were food insecure before the pandemic, and that figure has increased by 36 percent amid the crisis.
Founded by the Reverend Al Sharpton, the civil rights organization wanted to ensure that individuals facing hardships didn’t go without a meal this holiday season and distributed food to Harlem residents. The NAN also used the meal distribution event to ensure COVID-19 testing was accessible amid the rise in Omicron cases. A testing site was set up outside of the nonprofit’s headquarters. Lieutenant Governor of New York Brian Benjamin and New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams were among the volunteers.
“Christmas is not about what you get; it’s about what you give,” Rev. Sharpton said in a statement, according to the news outlet.
He also added that local leaders must take actionable steps towards combatting COVID-19, especially in communities impacted by systemic social and health inequities. Mayor-elect Adams shared the same sentiments adding more efforts like the one led by the NAN are needed.
“We need to be a one-stop-shop,” he shared. “You come here, you get your meal, you get your mask, you get your COVID test, you get your vaccination.”
The NAN has led several impactful efforts to support the Harlem community and beyond. The food distribution event came a day after the organization hosted a toy drive in the neighborhood.