Mutual Aid and Solidarity in Sunnyside and Woodside

by Emily Solomon

Name: Sunnyside & Woodside Mutual Aid (SWMA)

What they do: Sunnyside & Woodside Mutual Aid is a community organized group made up of neighbors working collectively to address the needs of the community outside of already existing government organizations. This group formed at the onset of the COVID 19 pandemic and their resource page covers issues such as food insecurity, housing, medical needs, legal support, environmental clean up, and community safety to name a few. 

How they do it: Sunnyside & Woodside Mutual Aid is an organized group of neighbors that coordinate weekly food pantries and other projects using online platforms such as slack, instagram, and notion. They also welcome donations to their monthly food and supply drives, an online fundraising platform called Open Collective, and a local community fridge.

Latest project/campaign: In January 2022, dozens of unhoused neighbors were relocated by the City to hotels in the Sunnyside/Woodside area. SWMA quickly mobilized to provide food, PPE, clothing, toiletries, and other necessities to these new neighborhood residents. This response eventually grew into one of the group’s primary efforts.

Major Funding: All funding is from community members using Open Collective.

Annual Budget: ~$37,000

Interesting fact about how it is working to positively affect the food system: SWMA is part of a rich ecosystem of local community groups that are growing food (45th Street Composters and Rusty Wheelbarrow Farm), sourcing food outside of government programs (The Connected Chef), and distributing it in ways that do not “means test” (pop-up pantries and community fridges in Woodside and Elmhurst). In other words, there are no eligibility requirements to receive aid from SWMA, as it is available to anyone who wants it.


Location: Various locations throughout Sunnyside & Woodside including their headquarters located at St. Jacobus Lutheran Church in Woodside.

Core Programs:

  1. Saturday food pantries: SWMA operates two pop-up food pantries each Saturday, one at Woodside Houses NYCHA development and the other at 61st Street, near the Woodside MTA/LIRR station.
  2. Ad hoc projects that respond to immediate community needs, such as one to support unhoused neighbors.
  3. Collaborations with local groups and projects including Queens Mutual Aid Network, Woodside Community Fridge, Elmhurst Community Fridge 2, 45th Street Composters, Rusty Wheelbarrow Farm, Woodside Sunnyside Composting, Moore Jackson Community Garden, The Connected Chef, Myrtle Avenue Food Pantry, UndocuMami Mutual Aid, Stacey’s Pantry, among others. 

Number of volunteers: 10–15 organizers, 30–40 regular volunteers

Areas served: Sunnyside, Woodside, and surrounding neighborhoods

Year Started: 2020

Contact Information:; (973) 709-5975

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