Gounardes assures locals that his office is helping with several issues caused by COVID-19 pandemic

Originally published in Brooklyn Reporter on May 07, 2020.

State Senator Andrew Gounardes wants locals to know he’s willing and able to help with several issues encountered during COVID-19.

According to the senator’s office, constituents have called with concerns about several topics, such as unemployment, food insecurity, nursing home patients and sanitation.

"In this incredibly difficult time, we are here to help,” Gounardes told this paper. “Our office prides ourselves on being available to speak to you when no one else will pick up the phone, and to work efficiently to get you the solutions or answers you need. Whether you are trying to get through to the Department of Labor to pick up your much-needed unemployment checks or get food on the table, we are with you and will do everything we can to assist."

With unemployment numbers skyrocketing and individuals having a difficult time applying and getting through to the Department of Labor, Gounardes says he has heard hundreds of cases where he and his office are trying to help people get the unemployment benefits they need. 

Dealing with hunger, Gounardes teamed up with World Central Kitchen, a non-profit organization founded by chef José Andrés in 2010 to bring smart solutions to hunger and poverty, and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) to give away 2,400 meals per week at his office at 8018 5th Ave. 

"I have been extremely fortunate to partner with World Central Kitchen and IRC to distribute 2,400 meals per week in Bay Ridge,” said Gounardes. “Yet it is also heartbreaking to see the staggering food insecurity in our community.”

On Friday, May 1, the organizations added a grocery bag giveaway from his office. Gounardes is also helping people connect with local food pantries or local organization Bay Ridge Cares, which will provide a care package of food to those in need all across southern Brooklyn and not just Bay Ridge, as well as pointing them in the direction of existing resources such as New York State Department of Health and New York City Department for the Aging.

Locals can also report issues with loved ones in local nursing homes.

According to Spectrum News, Gounardes and other advocates and lawmakers want a statewide task force to oversee nursing homes during the pandemic.

“We should not have stories about people not being able to communicate with their loved ones, not being able to be physically present to advocate for them and to have total radio silence for days and weeks on end,” he told the news outlet.

He also stated that there has been an increase in sanitation concerns due to people throwing their masks and gloves on the street and his office will look to present the issue to the City of New York Department of Sanitation.