project leader
Kelvin T
location
69 Belmont Avenue
(Brownsville)
latest update rss
2020 was magical thanks to all of you!

the project

East Brooklyn Mutual Aid (EBMA) is a volunteer-led initiative run by ordinary people, mostly Black and LGBTQ+ folks, to address food insecurity in Brooklyn's eastern neighborhoods. EBMA was originally organized to support those affected by COVID-19 by providing free groceries and social support. We have expanded to strengthen movements for food sovereignty and community reliance through direct community organizing. 

EBMA currently partners with three primary organizations to make this work possible. Our longest-running program is Black Radish, in partnership with Brooklyn Packers. We source low-cost groceries and have successfully distributed more than 150,000 lbs of food throughout Brooklyn’s eastern neighborhoods. The Christian Cultural Center (CCC) provides pantry products to fill our bags, and in return, we deliver food bags to at least 50 CCC homebound households per week. We also deliver 50 bags per week on behalf of United for Brownsville, as they reached capacity to address food insecurity in Brownsville. 

In the heat of COVID, we partnered with community-based organizations like Phoenix Community Garden, Free Fridge Community, Collective Fare, Camp Friendship Food Pantry, Corbin Hill Food Project, and 9 Million Reasons––along with numerous food distribution initiatives such as with elected officials Senator Zellnor Myrie and Council Person Darma Diaz––to provide food for over 80,000 Brooklyn residents. For example, we packed 1,000 food boxes per day for 16 consecutive weeks on behalf of the Corbin Hill Food Project through funding from the Get Food NYC Program with Brooklyn Packers. 

the steps

Our population primarily consists of immigrants of color and Black and Latinx folks, and all of those receiving our services live 200% below the poverty line. Brownsville, in particular, was considered a COVID hotspot of the country, with a 41% infection rate during the height of the pandemic. With that said, we believe in the power and resilience of our community, and we have been humbled to work alongside our neighbors, rather than over them, every step of the way. 

We are proud to say that all of our leaders and 90% of our volunteers live and work in Brooklyn’s eastern communities. We also crafted a board of directors to ensure that no one person is making any decision alone. The board meets quarterly and consists of nine directors, all of whom had to have volunteered with EBMA for at least six months. The volunteers meet every Monday, and this meeting is open to veteran volunteers and anyone looking to get involved. Meetings are recorded and posted in a Google Drive that remains publicly accessible, while those that have registered as volunteers can edit and add comments following the meeting. All notes are disseminated on Slack, and we actively use Slack channels to ensure each person can engage in our ongoing dialogue. Many of the people we have served, from individuals to entire families, later return to volunteering with EBMA. We attribute this reaction to our inclusive, community-led, and anti-racist values, and ultimately, we prioritize “mutual” in mutual aid: a one-to-one community relationship system.

Within the next 30 days, we will incorporate as a cooperative with a non-profit division. We voted to pursue a cooperative structure because there is less bureaucracy and red tape around decision-making, allowing for more mobilization and execution to support our community. It will also allow for more democratic processes of decision-making. Community members will directly say on important topics like distribution, supply chains, and how programs are created and executed––decisions that directly affect their households. Due to lack of funding capacity, we are working with a free legal clinic, Brooklyn Law Incubator and Policy Clinic, made up of pre-grad law students to navigate the incorporation process. Once incorporated, we will be able to roll out a membership program where each member gets one vote on all decisions. We will advertise the membership program through flyering, door-to-door, newsletters, social media, elected officials, and other community-based organizations. This is what it looks like to build fair and accessible community reliance. 

 

why we're doing it

EBMA takes multiple but intersecting approaches to address racism. One of these avenues is prioritizing working with and for Black and indigenous communities and communities of color (BIPOC). In working with and for our BIPOC neighbors, we are building capacity and increasing community wellbeing so we may continue providing for one another within our communities to ensure that no one person or family is left behind. This community-reliance framework actively works to break down anti-Black racism and support all people experiencing oppression because it begins to erode the role that capitalism––inherently tied with white supremacy––plays in the lives of each of us, but particularly those experiencing compounded forms of oppression. 

Age, disability, and class overwhelmingly affect our work throughout COVID, as we strive to prioritize homebound individuals and families as well as those experiencing the deepest levels of hunger. The immigration status also impacted the level of need, as many people are unable to access unemployment, stimulus checks, or government services. By intentionally decreasing bureaucracy’s control over EBMA’s work, we serve more people more efficiently. As an LGBTQ-led organization, our articulated values mandate that all volunteers and leaders actively exemplify solidarity within the LGBTQ+ community. We regularly explore how cultural biases and violent policies put LGBTQ+ individuals at higher rates of food insecurity. This active inclusivity and transparency translate to an increased ability to access and support LGBTQ+ neighbors in need.   

When we are not working with and for BIPOC communities, elderly folks, those with precarious immigration status, and many others experiencing nuanced multiplicities of oppression, EBMA is working with and seeking out Black and brown, often women-led organizations whose internal structures reflect or expand on that of EBMA’s. For instance, one of our sourcing and distribution partners, Brooklyn Packers, is a Black and brown-led worker-owned cooperative. Their worker-led cooperative structure allows each employee to have an equal say in the system and values of their organization, which is pertinent to eliminating racism in a workplace, neighborhood, and society at large. Another culminating example includes our partner Collective Fare, a Black-owned chef-collaborative, catering, and food production company in Brownsville. Their collaborative, community-organizing approach to food distribution allowed Collective Fare to scale their services during COVID, serving over 550,000 fresh meals and 35,000 pounds of produce in partnership with organizations like EBMA to residents living in food deserts in the East Brooklyn neighborhoods. 

 

budget

Updated budget 11.24.2020

We are distributing full bags of groceries.  $30/family and our requests have recently increased.  

$30/ feeds a family for a week.  Each bag will be filled with groceries to prepare 9 meals!  
 



PROJECT FUNDING NEEDED = $100,000
ioby Platform Fee waived
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) waived
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%)
(Donation processing fee does not apply to match funding.)
$2,585
TOTAL TO RAISE = $102,585
Please note: ioby fees are estimated and will be calculated based on totals at the end of the campaign.  

 

$75-100 per groceries delivery for up to 150 families in Ocean Hill/Brownsville

Volunteers are unpaid and there is no overhead. All money goes to groceries. 

Updated budget 9.18.20



PROJECT FUNDING NEEDED = $50,000
ioby Platform Fee waived
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) waived
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%)
(Donation processing fee does not apply to match funding.)
$1,151
TOTAL TO RAISE = $51,151
Please note: ioby fees are estimated and will be calculated based on totals at the end of the campaign.  

UPDATED BUDGET 06.22.20



PROJECT FUNDING NEEDED = $29,325
ioby Platform Fee waived
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) waived
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%)
(Donation processing fee does not apply to match funding.)
$675
TOTAL TO RAISE = $30,000
Please note: ioby fees are estimated and will be calculated based on totals at the end of the campaign.  

UPDATED BUDGET



PROJECT FUNDING NEEDED = $19,400
ioby Platform Fee waived
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) waived
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%)
(Donation processing fee does not apply to match funding.)
$600
TOTAL TO RAISE = $20,000
Please note: ioby fees are estimated and will be calculated based on totals at the end of the campaign.  

 

ORIGINAL BUDGET



PROJECT FUNDING NEEDED = $9,700
ioby Platform Fee waived
ioby Fiscal Sponsorship Fee (5%) waived
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%) $300
TOTAL TO RAISE = $10,000

updates

2020 was magical thanks to all of you!

Groceries to 500 families+!

All,

Thank you for your support! This week marks deliveries to 500+ families - 544 to be exact! That's more than 2,000 neighbors. In the past 8 weeks we've built a volunteer network of 40+ people. And most importantly we've created community at a time that we all needed it. Thanks for being a part of this. 
 

Keep up with what we're doing - or join us! - through Facebook (Ocean Hill Brownsville Mutual Aid) and Instagram and Twitter (OHBMutualAid). 
 

❤️❤️❤️

photos

This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration

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