Why She’s a Food Hero: Kathryn Garcia was tasked with the challenge of creating a “citywide network to ensure that food is available to those who cannot afford it,” said Mayor de Blasio, when he appointed her as the COVID-19 Food Czar. The work included increased funding to emergency food relief services such as pantries and soup kitchens, increased home-delivery of meals to vulnerable populations, and grab-and-go meal service at New York City public schools. By July of 2020, the city had distributed more than one hundred million meals. As Food Czar, Garcia had many accomplishments, including providing meals to the elderly, supporting workers in the grocery supply chain, and ensuring meals offered to New Yorkers are culturally sensitive.
Background: Garcia grew up in Brooklyn, attending Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan before going to the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She has worked in New York City government throughout her career, including roles in the Department of Finance and the Department of Environmental Protection. She was appointed as the commissioner of the Department of Sanitation in 2014.
Work: Garcia was appointed Food Czar during the COVID-19 crisis by Mayor Bill de Blasio on March 22, 2020. Prior to the appointment, she was the commissioner of the Department of Sanitation. In September 2021, she was appointed to the position of Director of New York State Operations by Governor Kathy Hochul.
Location: New York City
Awards, Praise and Honors: Garcia has been praised as New York City’s “go-to crisis manager” for her capabilities while handling the Housing Authority’s lead-poisoning crisis.
Resources and References:
- Kathryn Garcia, Mayoral Candidate 2021 Food Policy Interview (Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center)
- NYC Food Czar Kathryn Garcia is Overseeing a Massive Supply Chain and Feeding the Hungry (Civil Eats)
- De Blasio Names ‘Food Czar’ to Combat Impending Hunger Crisis with ‘Mobilization We’ve Never Seen Before’ (Gotham Gazette)
- How NYC’s New ‘Food Czar’ Is Keeping People Fed During the Coronavirus Crisis (Eater)
- Food Czar To Oversee Meal Delivery for Elderly After Early Stumbles (The City)
- Garcia’s Health Plan Leans on Better Food Accessibility (Politico)
- A Q&A with New York City’s go-to crisis manager (City and State NY)
- Mayor de Blasio Announces City Has Distributed 100 Million Meals to New Yorkers Since March (Office of the Mayor)