Since the beginning of March 2020, when the idea of a lockdown was somewhat in the air, senior staffers from Masbia, a kosher soup kitchen network headquartered in Flatbush, started planning food contingencies to be able to be open during this looming emergency.
Sixteen months and 20 million pounds of food later, Chef Ruben Diaz hasn’t taken a day off in order to make sure that no one goes to sleep hungry in New York City.
This is why he has been invited to lead Masbia’s delegation in “Hometown Heroes,”’ a ticker-tape parade thanking the essential workers who uplifted New Yorkers through the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The parade, which will take place at 11 a.m. on July 7, 2021, will begin by Manhattan’s Battery Park, travel along the Canyon of Heroes, and end with a ceremony in City Hall Park.
The parade will feature a variety of different floats, each of which representing a group of essential workers who served this city heroically throughout the pandemic. Represented groups will include advocacy organizations, city workers, emergency food providers, emergency food providers (such as Masbia), faith leaders, health care workers, retail workers, transportation workers, hospitality and buildings workers, and social service workers.
While a pandemic is a health emergency, more New Yorkers were adversely impacted by the economic effect and are still recovering. As the pandemic turned into a recession, and so many people needed basic food help, Diaz transitioned Masbia’s services into an outdoor, ready-to-go, 24-hour operation.
He also transitioned the extraordinarily long bread lines into a digital appointment system that operates in seven languages. On average, he and his team at Masbia distributed more than a million pounds of food each month to hungry New Yorkers.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the Masbia Soup Kitchen Network has mobilized to respond to the emergency food needs of NYC. Masbia is continuing to respond to a 500 percent increase in demand.
Each day, close to 500 families visit Masbia every day at each of the three locations. That means about 1,500 families a day and 7,500 every week get food relief from Masbia.
Now that New York is in the recovery phase, celebrating the fact that Chef Ruben Diaz and his team at Masbia touched so many people’s lives, an invitation to march in the Hometown Heroes Parade in recognition of their roles as essential workers is a welcome honor that he and his team are happy to take part in.
“We can never thank our essential workers enough for all they’ve done for this city. But we can celebrate their heroism in our streets – and put on a safe, dynamic, unforgettable parade to show our appreciation,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Thanks to these essential workers, we’ve fought back COVID-19 and we’re on our way to building a recovery for all of us. I can’t wait to march alongside them.”
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