5 Questions with Dave Shichman, New Alternatives for Children

David Shichman is the Director, Resources, Advocacy, & Homelessness Prevention Program at New Alternatives For Children (NAC), a New York City child welfare agency that works with special needs children and their families.

No Kid Hungry New York spoke with Dave about the challenges, opportunities, and impact of feeding kids and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1. How have you continued to change your food program to feed kids during the COVID-19 pandemic?

We’re making sure we have a wide variety of fresh and nonperishables foods and the ability to bring them to our clients, especially those who are immunocompromised. Our transportation department has been essential over the last year.

2. What challenges have you faced getting food to kids in your community?

Buying the right foods that are nutritious for kids but also enjoyable. Providing frozen and fresh foods which may require different modes of transportation. 

3. How have No Kid Hungry grant funds helped you feed kids in your community?

Essential help! We have been able to order the fresh foods that we believe our families desperately need, instead of solely relying on what the local food banks can provide us. Our ability to supplement that food that with a direct order of fruits, vegetables, protein and more has been essential!

4. Can you share a story or interaction with a family that’s been meaningful to you?

Ms. T is a NAC parent who was assisted by our Housing and Homelessness Prevention Program in a discrimination case pertaining to public housing. Ms. T has a son, Joshua, whose multiple medical diagnoses have caused him, and consequently his mother, to be in total quarantine since the outbreak of the pandemic. From their isolation, Ms. T did not know how she could obtain food. Ms. T contacted our offices to express her thanks for the critical assistance she and her son received from NAC:

“I really appreciate NAC tremendously because Joshua is medically fragile, and I can’t take him outside to go food shopping. So the bag of food from NAC delivered every week is SO appreciated. It gives me hope that we will get through this.” 

Another story involves Ms. O, a foster parent who lives alone with the medically-complex child who she took in and cares for as her own. Ms. O is in dire financial straits and found herself unable to afford food and other necessities for her child. When the NAC team arrived with help, she was overcome by emotion. “I cried when I got my gift card. I didn’t know how I was going to shop for food. This will go a long way.”  

5. What is your favorite part of your job?

Bringing positivity to the world. Feeding people is one of the best things one can do.