Hundreds of volunteers around the city participated in anti-hunger activities as part of the ninth annual Serve-A-Thon to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Theresa Hassler, director of communications for the New York City Coalition Against Hunger said Thanksgiving isn't the only holiday to consider giving service.
"This is just another day in the year where people think, 'Wow, people are still hungry 365 days a year,' and so MLK day, people are really looking at it as another opportunity to serve," she said.
A new component for volunteers this year was manning phone banks to inform low-income parents that free lunches are available for children at public schools in the five boroughs.
Volunteer Sharon Davis said she was glad she decided to participate.
"It's worth being here this morning, getting out of bed on a cold day to come in--some people honestly know their child could receive free breakfast at school," Davis said.
Organizers said the events commemorated the late Dr. King’s goal of building a sustained social movement which recognized economic opportunity, equality and food security as civil rights.
“This year’s activities have a little more meaning or resonance because when we focus on childhood nutrition and food pantries there are so many people who never thought they would have to rely on those services and for the first time, they are”, Hassler said.
Other volunteers distributed information on obtaining food stamps, painted and cleaned charities, and served food at soup kitchens.