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Taxis, bikes & sushi robots keep New Yorkers fed, protected


NEW YORK: Yellow cabs are lining up sooner than dawn at meals distribution websites across the city.

Motorcyclists are humming over bridges, baggage packed with mask and robes.

Even sushi-making robots are pitching in, releasing up acclaimed cooks to ship foods to hospitals.

With their fellow New Yorkers in need, an army of not going couriers is distributing meals and provides within the coronavirus hotspot. They're protecting families fed amid a surge in unemployment that has nearly doubled the city's food-insecure inhabitants to about 2 million. They're making sure medical doctors have face shields and N95 mask after health center stockpiles ran out. They're lifting spirits for the ones affected most by way of the pandemic that has killed a minimum of 13,000 New Yorkers.

"At this time, we need to help each other," taxi motive force Adel Jelassi mentioned. "There's a crisis, and I want New York to come back."

Jelassi and thousands of different New York cabbies have helped supply more than 6.five million foods for the reason that state instituted stay-at-home measures in March.





The city-funded meals delivery program, coordinated via New York's Taxi & Limousine Commission, is paying drivers $53 for each six-stop course they take on. Most are getting three routes consistent with day, which is helping stay TLC drivers financially afloat with attainable riders stuck at domestic.

Taxis are arriving as early as four:30 a.m. at meals distribution websites, hours sooner than they open, to ensure they get a complete day's value of routes. Drivers take boxes packed with foods from the amenities to the front doors of families. All New Yorkers are eligible for this system and will sign up by way of calling 311.

"It's helping me to survive, feed my kids and pay my bills," Jelassi mentioned. "And helping other people to get stuff at home."

Jelassi has been making his pickups at Basketball City in Manhattan's Lower East Side, a 70,000 sq. foot facility uniquely suited to the city's meals program.

The seven-court health club is normally a tradition area for NBA teams visiting the Knicks or Nets, and a house for adult leagues, camps and clinics for inner-city youngsters. Now it's been taken over by way of NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and filled with boxes of meals donated by way of distributors corresponding to Gate Gourmet, an airline meals supplier.

The website can send out as much as 100,000 foods per week. It's the only one in all New York's 9 distribution centers sending meals to all five boroughs.

"The whole thing is surreal," mentioned Bruce Radler, founder and CEO of Basketball City, who offered up his health club to the city after he used to be compelled to close temporarily.

With New Yorkers most commonly setting apart at domestic, the city's congested roadways were freed of gridlock, permitting motorcyclists like Melanie Milano to zip between boroughs.

She's placing the open streets to charitable use by way of handing over mask, robes and different protective tools to medical professionals briefly provide. She's one in all masses of bikers national volunteering with Masks for Docs, a company that purchases Personal Protective Equipment from providers and donates it immediately to medical doctors. Medical professionals can request provides via its web page.

Masks for Docs has delivered more than 100,000 mask and tens of thousands of face shields within the U.S. in four weeks. Many of the ones drop-offs were made by way of motorcycle.

"Riding my motorcycle around the city to deliver PPE to people who really need it is the least I can do," Milano mentioned.

Milano has made about 15 runs with Masks for Docs, along her girlfriend, Ashley Zeolla.

"It makes me genuinely smile," Milano mentioned. "It's hard in a time like this to actually feel genuine happiness. Knowing I'm helping somebody through this in a way is huge."

Sushi chef Mark Garcia has been in hospitality for almost 20 years, but he's testing a new position amid the pandemic _ delivery man.

The govt chef at Kissaki in Manhattan has been bringing bluefin tuna, yellowtail and uni to hungry health center employees using a automobile rented by way of restaurant proprietor Garry Kanfer.

Garcia used to be freed as much as make the deliveries after Kanfer invested more than $20,000 in sushi-making robots to hurry up manufacturing. The shop has one robot urgent out rice sheets for maki rolls, and it expects to add a maki-roll cutter and nigiri rice ball maker soon.


The rice sheet maker has helped Garcia and two different cooks crank out nearly 100 foods consistent with day for health center employees otherwise subsisting on burgers, pizza and different takeout.


"They love it," Garcia mentioned. "They say, `I'm so tired of chicken, I'm so happy to have sushi."'


The robots, reasonably not unusual in Japan but rare for New York City eating places, also are a timely funding for Kanfer. Kissaki opened in past due January and hadn't been promoting takeout. With the robots, Kanfer is pivoting the restaurant from serving hand-rolled omakase within the dining room to providing extra out there pieces for delivery.


"We needed to adjust," Kanfer mentioned.


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