An anonymous donor has given $1.2 million to help some of New York’s poorest families buy food and necessities during the coronavirus shutdown — a windfall that staff at the New York Council of Nonprofits say comes without precedent.
The funds were donated to one of New York City’s largest social service agencies, SCO Family of Services, which will distribute the funds to more than 1,500 families through gift cards to the delivery service DoorDash.
“This gift has provided a truly meaningful and tangible way to ease the unprecedented challenges that New Yorkers, across every neighborhood and community, are experiencing,” said Keith Little, the agency’s president.
In 2018, SCO served nearly 60,000 people in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx and Long Island. One of the largest foster care providers in the state, the agency also provides preventative services, emergency food and shelter, child care, counseling and employment services.
Leaders of these various programs are identifying clients with the most urgent needs to receive the gift cards, which will range from $500 to $1,000 depending on family size, according to Leslie Johnson, who leads communications at SCO. Recipients of the gift cards will be able to use them to purchase DoorDash deliveries of takeout meals, as well as household products and groceries.
The gift comes as many New Yorkers are being slammed by job losses driven by coronavirus. New York state saw nearly 30 times as many new unemployment claims during the last week of March – from 12,603 to 366,403 – compared to the same week the year prior.
Nearly 1 million of the city’s children lived at or near the poverty line even before the pandemic, according to a recent report by the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, and the recent economic devastation is pushing hundreds of thousands of families to the brink.
Megan Conn can be reached at [email protected]