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Ridgewood Elementary Schooler Teams Up with Hungry Monk to Provide Food for Those Affected by Coronavirus

Ridgewood Elementary Schooler Teams Up with Hungry Monk to Provide Food for Those Affected by Coronavirus

Jacob Altamirano started this project when he realized coronavirus job loss could mean many people in his community are now going hungry.

Jacob Altamirano, who is in fifth grade at P.S. 290Q in Ridgewood and already has a long history of community service behind him, partnered with Hungry Monk to provide families affected by coronavirus with bags full of food—and flowers for Mother’s Day—on May 9. Jacob was inspired to start this project when he realized coronavirus job loss might be contributing to hunger in his community. Hungry Monk has provided Queens families and people without homes with food since 2017.

“Many kids in the community are eating only one meal a day, and parents are losing their jobs due to Covid-19,” he told NYMetroParents. “[Teaming up with] Hungry Monk was a great experience. We got to help others.” 

Jacob and his mother Connie Altamirano purchased $850 worth of food from BJ's thanks to donations from Jacob’s piggy bank, Connie and her daughter Jamie, and other family and friends. Hungry Monk picked the food up from the Altamirano house and set Jacob up at Covenant Lutheran Church to create grocery bags of breakfast items, meat, beans, vegetables, and snacks to give to community members. As for the Mother’s Day flowers? That was Jacob’s idea too. He reached out to a florist (who has asked to remain anonymous), who donated 150 pre-packaged flowers so everyone was able to get a bouquet. 

Jacob thought of handing out flowers after Connie shared with him the feelings of anxiety that standing online for food—and for her, standing online for a DOE remote learning device—can provoke. 

“When people come, we have to smile, we have to tell them we’re in this together, that we’re going to get through this together,” Connie instructed Jacob. “[Tell them], ‘we’re here to help in any way we can, and we’re here to brighten your day.’”

Jacob isn’t the only altruistic Altamirano child. His sister Jamie Longo-Altamirano is spearheading a project to fill pantries with $600 worth of menstrual products—which she decided to purchase directly from the distributor—so people with periods won’t go without supplies during this time. She is accepting donations during this time too. Keep an eye out to learn which organization Jamie will be partnering with!

“The problem is these pantries do not provide for the women and young girls in need. The New York population is 51.5 percent female, yet these pantries do not provide feminine hygienic products while many of the women and young girls who need them can’t afford them,” Jamie says. “So that’s why I want to help by giving these women and young girls with the products they need.” 

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is that we have to help each other,” Jacob says of his experience. Connie echoes, “’Today for me, tomorrow for you.’”

Learn more about Hungry Monk and how you can help its coronavirus emergency response efforts through this YouTube video. If you’re not in Queens, there are still plenty of opportunities for volunteering in the New York metro area and from home, so we can all help others during this time.

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Main Image: Courtesy Connie Altamirano

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Jacqueline Neber

Author: Jacqueline Neber is a social journalism MA candidate at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. When she’s not reporting, you can find her petting someone else’s dog. See More

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