Food Bank For New York City, along with longtime partner Bank of America, and media partners HOT 97 and WBLS, has kicked off the 5-Borough Challenge – a social media and crowdfunding initiative to raise money to provide 1 million meals by the end of the year.

Native and current New York celebrities will bolster their home-borough pride with a friendly fundraising competition encouraging their fans and egging their friends to donate to their team borough through social media.

The challenge consists of five teams, one for each borough, each with a goal of raising money for 200,000 meals in hope of raising a total of 1 million meals.

Desus Nice will represent Team Bronx; Tracy Morgan, Nia Long, and Omar Epps will represent Team Brooklyn; Drea de Matteo and Julie Chen will represent Team Queens; Alyssa Milano and Selita Ebanks will represent Team Staten Island; and Eli Brown, Tamron Hall, and New York Nico will represent Team Manhattan.

The 5-Borough Challenge kicked off on Black Friday, November 27, the day after Thanksgiving, statistically one of the hardest days of the year for New Yorkers in need of a meal, when many soup kitchens and food pantries are closed. With the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic putting many people out of work and rapidly increasing the need for assistance, the demand on the emergency food network has surged. Food Bank For New York City reports that the vast majority of soup kitchens and food pantries have been serving more New Yorkers during the pandemic than they were previously: many agencies have seen their number of visitors double. Even before COVID-19, the demand for food was already high: nearly 1.2 million New Yorkers were already food insecure.
Bank of America has committed a $100,000 donation to Food Bank to be used as a match incentive for the campaign. As media partners, HOT 97 and WBLS will participate in the challenge by providing station influencers and DJs as teammates and promoting the campaign on-air and digitally throughout the campaign.

“Bank of America has a yearly tradition of spending the holidays with the Food Bank For New York City, from our volunteer efforts to our commitments of support. Despite the challenges of 2020, this year, we are proud to keep our tradition alive as the financial partner of the 5-Borough Challenge,” said Anne Walker, New York City market president for Bank of America. “I urge everyone, who is able, to contribute to this campaign and rally all corners of our city to come together virtually to support New Yorkers in need.”

“We are so happy to continue our partnership with the Food Bank For New York City to help and serve our community,” said Pio Ferro, HOT 97 and WBLS’ VP of Programming. “This is an unprecedented Holiday season and I know our teams will help reach the goal of 1 million meals.”

“New Yorkers know how to come together when times are tough. And this year, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re proving once again just how resilient we are,” said Janis Robinson, Vice President of Institutions and Partnerships at Food Bank For New York City. “The 5-Borough Challenge is our love letter to New York City — our way of showing that no matter what borough you call home, we always stand together and support our neighbors in need. We are so grateful for our team captains, Hot 97 and WBLS, and our longtime partner Bank of America for helping us provide warm meals across the five boroughs this holiday season.”

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